Ratatouille (pronounced ra-tuh-TOO-ee or ra-tuh-TWEE), from the words ratouiller (“to shake”) and touiller (“to stir”), is one of those things that cooks make when summer vegetables are at their peak. It’s a sort of casserole with vegetables and fresh herbs. Before the vegetables are cooked together, they are sautéed separately. In some instances, a different pan is used for each vegetable.
Although every cook makes Ratatouille differently, there is a certain amount of consistency from one kitchen to the next. However you do it, Ratatouille takes time. Julia Child, who thought nothing of taking days to cook a cassoulet wrote, “Ratatouille is not one of the quicker dishes to make.”
Our recipe is filled with traditional ingredients: eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic and onion. We sautéed some of the ingredients in olive oil. The eggplant was grilled a day ahead. This saved time the next day and gave the dish a delicious smoked flavor. Also, instead of serving the Ratatouille as a side, we turned it into a main dish with ricotta and Parmesan.
—Jean Kressy, a food writer in Ashburnham, Mass.