Celebrate Bastille Day with ratatouille recipe for famous French classic | Cooking school

by 24USATVJuly 14, 2021, 9 p.m. 18
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"Ratatouille" is a funny word, staccato and dull pronounced in English — rat-a-too-ee. It takes on quite different imagery when pronounced in French — ra-ta-tooo-yuh, sounding more melodic and delicious. And so it is.

This simple dish was made famous by the movie “Ratatouille,” in which a struggling young chef is finally reviewed by harsh food critic Anton Ego. Reminded of his mother’s cooking, Ego is so inspired by petite rodent chef Remy’s ratatouille that he is declared “the finest chef in France!” And so, today, as we honor Bastille Day — the French Independence celebration of fireworks and feasting — the colorful, earthy, delicious ratatouille is the perfect choice.

This French Provencal mélange of sweet peppers, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and fresh herbs fills the entire house with a sumptuous fragrance. Mais oui, pair this side-dish with grilled grouper or trigger fish and wash this down with a crisp, cool glass of Chablis … Vive La France!

Originally classically prepared as a ragout, this vegetable stew was allowed to cook so long that it became soft and creamy, lacking texture and color. In the Nouvelle style, a quick sauté of each of the vegetables separately maintains their distinct tastes and textures. And with a final mixing or layering, the dish is robust and visually exciting. Now abundant and seasonal, the ingredients are fresh and locally available. Equally delicious hot or cold, with seafood, lamb or beef, La Ratatouille Nicoise is a French classic.

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Using a large sauté pan, cook the onions, pepper and seasonings in olive oil until translucent, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Using a zester on the zucchini, remove strips of peel lengthwise, forming a striped pattern. Slice into ¼-inch round pieces. Using the same sauté pan (unwashed), cook the zucchini slices, seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil for 3 minutes. Turn them once. Transfer to the large bowl.

Slice the eggplant into eighths. Slice each section into strips 1-inch long and ¼-inch thick. Season with salt and pepper. Using the same pan, cook the strips in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add them to the large bowl.

Using the same pan, cook the seasoned tomatoes and garlic in olive oil until thick, about 4 minutes. Add to the large bowl.

Mix all vegetables together well. Correct the seasoning as necessary. Transfer to an oven-proof dish. Heat for 15 minutes in a 400-degree oven.

Celia Casey is a columnist for the News Journal. She is a graduate of the Paris Cordon Bleu and teaches classes in French cuisine. Cuisine Française 850-525-6720 or [email protected]

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