Ratatouille à la Julia Child is an amazing dish. My inspiration for this dish was Julia Child’s recipe in The Way to Cook. I’ve been making this ratatouille for some time. As always, her recipe and approach never disappoint. It is the perfect vegetarian dish that is loaded with delicious ingredients that are cooked to perfection.
As she indicated,”numerous recipes for this wonderful Provençal eggplant casserole exist, and I think the best of them direct that the vegetables cook separately, then finish with a short communal simmer. Thus each one, rather than entering into a mish-mash relationship, retains its own character.” Yet again, Julia got it right! In fact, the Master Taste Tester was so impressed that he said that this would be our staple should we ever decide to go vegetarian!
I first blogged about this amazing dish on January 17, 2016. Since then, I’ve tried simplified approaches to making ratatouille and keep coming back to Julia’s recipe. I have made two modifications to her original recipe though. First, rather than using fresh tomatoes, I use canned whole tomatoes. The reason is that fresh tomatoes these days are pretty tasteless. However, the canned tomatoes are brimming with flavor. Second, I use Japanese eggplants (pictured below), if I can find them. The reason is that the skin on Japanese eggplants isn’t quite as thick.
Another delicious recipe using eggplant is my Eggplant Parmesan. You should try it!
Ingredients for Ratatouille
I used the following ingredients for this wonderful dish: Japanese eggplants, Kosher salt, zucchini, olive oil, oregano, thyme, onions, green bell peppers, garlic, and canned whole tomatoes. If I can’t find Japanese eggplants, I use the regular variety.
Preparing the Eggplant
Starting with the eggplant, I removed the green cap and cut the eggplant into ⅜-inch crosswise slices. I salted the eggplant lightly on each side and spread the slices on paper towels to drain. After 20 minutes, the eggplant had given up a lot of its moisture. I patted each piece dry with paper towels and arranged them on a large rimmed baking sheet that I had lined with non-stick aluminum foil. Then, I lightly brushed each piece with olive oil and sprinkled on some dried oregano and thyme. Next, I covered the baking sheet with aluminum foil and baked the eggplant in a preheated 400° F oven for about 15 minutes, just until it was tender.
Preparing the Zucchini
While the eggplant was cooking, I turned my attention to the zucchini. I scrubbed the zucchini and cut off the stem and bud ends. Then, I cut the zucchini lengthwise into 2-inch slices that were ⅜-inch thick. As was the case with the eggplant, I arranged the zucchini slices on paper towels and lightly salted both sides of the pieces. After 20 minutes, I patted each piece dry with paper towels. I added 2 Tablespoons of olive oil to a 12-inch skillet and browned the zucchini lightly on both sides over medium heat. Then, I removed the zucchini to paper towels to drain.
Preparing the Remaining Ingredients
Now came the time to cook the onions, bell pepper, garlic, and tomatoes. The mise-en-place was standing ready.
In the same skillet that I had used for the zucchini, I sautéed the sliced onions over medium heat until they were tender. This took about 7 minutes. Then I added the bell pepper and garlic to the onions. I increased the heat to medium high and continued cooking the mixture for several minutes until the bell pepper slices were tender. Before adding the tomato, I set aside about ½-cup for later use. Then, I added the rest of the tomato to the onion/bell pepper mixture. I continued cooking the mixture over medium high heat for several more minutes until the rendered juices from the tomatoes had evaporated.
Assembling the Ratatouille
I layered the different ingredients in a covered casserole dish as follows: (1) ⅓ of the onion/bell pepper/garlic/tomato mixture; (2) half of the zucchini; and (3) ⅓ of the eggplant. Then, I repeated this layering one more time.
To finish, I added the remaining ⅓ of the onion/bell pepper/tomato mixture, the rest of the eggplant slices and the reserved tomatoes.
At this point, I covered the dish and put it in the refrigerator for later on.
I covered the ratatouille and baked it in a preheated 350° F oven for about 25 minutes, until everything was hot and bubbly.
After 25 minutes, I removed the Ratatouille from the oven. I served it with a freshly made baguette and chilled Chardonnay. It was absolutely delicious! I can’t wait to try the leftovers. Yum!
Ratatouille à la Julia Child (adapted from Julia Child's The Way to Cook)
- 1 pound fresh eggplant (See Note 1)
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt divided
- 3 Tablespoons olive oil divided
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 pound zucchini
- 1 pound (3 ½ cups) sliced onions
- 2 large green bell peppers cut into match sticks (2 cups)
- 3 large cloves garlic minced
- 56 ounces (2 28-ounce cans) whole tomatoes, drained
- Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil; lightly oil. Set aside.
- Remove green caps of eggplant. Do not peel; cut into crosswise slices ⅜-inch thick. Lightly salt each side of eggplant slices (about 1 ½ teaspoons of salt) and place on paper towels. Let stand for 20 minutes; pat dry with paper towels. Arrange slices on oiled baking sheet; lightly brush with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon of oregano and ½ teaspoon of thyme on slices; cover with aluminum foil. Bake in preheated 400° F oven for 15 to 20 minutes, just until tender. Do not overcook. Remove from oven, and remove aluminum foil.
- Reduce the oven temperature to 350° F.
- Scrub the zucchini. Cut off the stem and bud ends, but do not peel. Cut lengthwise into 2-inch slices ⅜-inch thick. Salt the zucchini slices (about 1 ¼ teaspoons of salt) and place on paper towels. Let stand for 20 minutes; pat dry with paper towels. Heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, add zucchini slices; brown lightly on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Remove to paper towels to drain.
- In the same skillet that was used for the zucchini, sauté the onions until tender but not browned, about 7 minutes. Increase heat to medium high. Add the bell pepper slices and minced garlic. Cook for several minutes until fairly tender. Set aside ½-cup of the tomatoes. Add the rest of the tomatoes to the onion/bell pepper mixture and remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt. Cook over medium high heat until the tomatoes have rendered their juice and most of the juice has evaporated. Add additional salt if necessary.
- Layer the ingredients as follows: (1) ⅓ of the onion/bell pepper/garlic/tomato mixture; (2) half of the zucchini; (3) ⅓ of the eggplant; (4) ⅓ of the onion/bell pepper, garlic, tomato mixture; (5) remaining zucchini; (6) half of the remaining eggplant; (7) remaining onion/bell pepper/garlic/tomato mixture; (8) remaining eggplant; and (9) reserved tomato. (See Tip 2)
- Cover and heat in preheated 350° F oven for 25 to 30 minutes, or until mixture is heated through and bubbly. Yield: 6 to 8 servings. (See Tip 3)
Chula's Expert Tips
- I would recommend Japanese eggplant, if you can find it. Otherwise, use the regular eggplant variety.
- Once the ratatouille has been assembled, it can be refrigerated and cooked later in the day.
- Ratatouille can be served hot, warm or cold.