Summer tomatoes. (Ken Hively / Los Angeles…)
This popular French dish incorporates some of the best produce summer has to offer in a simple, yet bright and colorful medley of flavors. Eggplant, tomatoes, bell peppers and zucchini are combined with onion, garlic, herbs and a touch of balsamic vinegar in a robust dish that can be served as a main course (with rice or pasta, or toasted crostini) or as a side or appetizer. Serve the ratatouille warm, or make it ahead of time and serve it cold or at room temperature.
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- Olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 pounds eggplant
- 3 sweet red peppers
- 3 small zucchini, to equal 1 pound, ends trimmed and soaked in cold water 30 minutes
- 6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 3 tablespoons assorted fresh herbs (parsley, thyme, basil, marjoram and oregano)
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in medium nonstick saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add onion and cook, stirring until translucent but not brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, just until onion begins to brown. Do not let garlic brown. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove to mixing bowl.
If using slender Asian eggplant, cut into quarters lengthwise and then into 1-inch sections, without peeling. If using round Italian eggplant, trim top and bottom, peel and cut into 1-inch dice.
Using same saute pan, heat another tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and add eggplant. Cook, stirring constantly, 5 minutes or until eggplant begins to brown. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking until eggplant is rather soft, about another 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine with onion in mixing bowl. If necessary, divide eggplant in half and repeat, using another tablespoon of oil.
Remove tops and bottoms of peppers, cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds and fibers. Cut into 1/2-inch strips lengthwise and then into 1-inch dice. Again using same saute pan, heat another tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and, when hot, add peppers. Cook, stirring, until peppers become tender, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine with onion and eggplant in mixing bowl.
Cut zucchini into quarters lengthwise and then into 1-inch sections. Using same saute pan, heat another tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat and add zucchini, stirring constantly until zucchini just begin to brown. Reduce heat to medium and cook until tender-crisp. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Combine with onion, eggplant and peppers in mixing bowl.
Increase heat to high and add tomatoes to saute pan. Stir and add balsamic vinegar. Cook briefly, scraping bottom of pan to get up any brown bits, pour over vegetables and stir to combine.
Empty contents of mixing bowl into large saute pan and cook over medium-low heat until vegetables are cooked thoroughly. Onion, eggplant and peppers should be very soft, and zucchini should still have some bite. During last 5 minutes, add mixed herbs and stir well. Taste again. Adjust seasonings, if necessary. Serve hot or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.
Each serving contains about: 144 calories; 60 mg sodium; trace cholesterol; 9 grams fat; 15 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 2 grams fiber.