There are plenty of different ways to make ratatouille, and it’s quite hotly debated, as you don’t want to mess with grandmas recipe - some have been handed down for generations!
I’ve tried making it most ways, and for me roasting or searing each vegetable separately is the best way to get the most flavor. I also prefer it be in small mirepoix shape as this way you can serve it inside à tomato or round courgette (farcie) or pack it into a small round expresso cup and turn it out on the plate into a little tower.
One of the most amazing ratatouilles I ever had was an exquisitely refined version - cut into very small piperade size at Chez Bru when it was open in Eygalières around 10 years ago - that has been an inspiration ever since..
The best ratatouille begins with ripe summer ‘légumes de soleil‘ and all the ingredients being fresh, and hoped from your garden or your farmers - the tomatoes have got to be very ripe and delicious. The eggplant also needs to be firm and shiney - not dull or soft - that means they are a few days old and will be bitter. Note - Do not store your veg nor especially fruits of any kind in the fridge - ideally you’ve just purchased them and are using them that day or the next.. a cool place like a wine cellar is ideal - refrigeration zaps the flavor.
This will make around 12 portions
Equal parts of eggplant (1 large) zucchini (2 small to medium) and 1 red pepper diced into small mirepoix. 1/2 that amount of onion (So like 1 small onion)
4-5 small to medium tomatoes. fleur de sel and fresh ground pepper
to taste, 12 large fresh Basil leaves cut in chiffonnade. 3-4 tablespoons of raspberry vinegar.
Put thé oven on 375* f or 200* C
Cut the tomates in half and place skin side down in a roasting dish, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, a generous coating of dry herbs de Provence, salt and pepper to taste. Pop in the oven for 35-40 minutes until golden brown or slightly blackened.
Next start by sautéing the diced onion in olive or sunflower oil in a large stainless skillet.
Once they are browned - Astuce important! please do not stir here ! It’s vitally important that the vegetables brown - that’s where all tye flavor comes from. You must practice chef flipping here to get them turned over evenly, but only when they are browned on one side - moving them around just delays that process.
I prefer to stand there and sautée each vegetzble one at a time but you could do this by roasting them separately in the oven - if you have 2 sides then why not do your eggplant in the oven like the tomatoes and the rest on stove top. Either way gives the same results.
Remove the onions once browned and place in a larger Dutch oven or baking dish. Sautée each of your other vegetables (minus those roasting in the oven) séparately in the same way adding more oil to the pan and taking off the heat or turning it down as needed as you go.
Be careful not to burn - we want golden brown on at least 2 sides here.. if your pan is getting too brown go ahead and deglaze before it’s at all burned - deglaze the pan with 3-4 tablespoons of raspberry vinegar and add to the already browned vegetables sitting aside, and clean your pan, if necessary and start again.
When your tomatoes are ready to add to the vegetable mix - chop them up after adding them with a knife and fork in with the other vegetables. cook the entire vegetable mix over the stove together or in the oven for another 10 minutes - adding the vinegar after deglazing and scraping all the brown bits from the sautée pan. You may want to add a bit of water if it seems dry and definitely all the juices from the tomato roasting pan!
Serve hot or cold topped with a sprinkle of finishing salt, fresh ground pepper as well as fresh Basil.