This Provence-inspired Nicoise Ratatouille with Pistou recipe is a preview from chef Laurent Gras's multiple IACP award-winning cookbook, My Provence.
4-6 servings | Prep Time: 30 minutes | Cooking Time: 65 minutes
For the Ratatouille
- 4 vine-ripened tomatoes
- 2 medium seedless Sicilian eggplants
- ½ cup (100 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium white onion, diced into ½-inch (1.5 cm) cubes
- 3 red bell peppers, seeded and diced into ½-inch (1.5 cm) cubes
- 2 zucchini, diced into ½-inch (1.5 cm) cubes
- Freshly ground white pepper
- 10 leaves basil, finely sliced (optional)
For the Pistou
- 4 small cloves (15 g) garlic, peeled
- 1 bunch (60 g) basil, leaves only
- ½ cup (100 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 ounce (30 g) grated Parmesan or Pecorino (optional)
- Sea salt
For the Ratatouille
- Peel the tomatoes by trimming the stem end, cutting a cross in the bottom, and dropping them for a minute or two into boiling water. Shock in an ice bath and remove the skin. [insert tomato peeling video image] With a vegetable peeler, peel the eggplants, leaving alternate strips of peel intact to add color, flavor, and texture to the finished dish. Remove both ends and dice the eggplant into ½-inch (1.5 cm) cubes, the same size as the other vegetables. You should have about ¾ pound (375 g) of diced eggplant. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat half of the olive oil over medium heat. Sweat the garlic for a minute or so and quickly add the onion. Reduce the heat to low and let cook until the onion is translucent, 5 minutes or so. Add the red pepper, mix with the onions, and let cook for another 10 minutes. Add a little more of the oil, turn up the heat to medium, add the eggplant, and stir for a few minutes. The higher heat helps the eggplant retain its color and release its natural moisture more quickly. Let cook for about 10 minutes before adding the tomatoes. Cook with the tomatoes for a few minutes, until they release their moisture. Turn the heat back down to low, cover the saucepan, and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring the vegetables from time to time. At this point, determining when the ratatouille is done is a matter of personal judgment. The vegetables should be moist, but not soupy. If a lot of natural juice has collected, remove the lid to allow it to evaporate and reduce. Add the zucchini and cook for another 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and set aside until ready to serve. Ratatouille is best eaten lukewarm.
- Just before serving, season with salt and freshly ground white pepper. Add the basil (if you are not using the pistou), stir, and taste. Drizzle some additional olive oil on top of each portion. If using pistou, top each portion with a spoonful as you serve the ratatouille.
For the Pistou
- Using a mortar and pestle, pound the garlic to a paste. Add the basil and continue pounding until the leaves have been incorporated into the garlic paste. Add a little of the olive oil to encourage a paste to form. Slowly pour in the remaining olive oil while mixing to form an emulsion. Stir in the cheese, if using. Season with sea salt.
- To prepare the pistou with a mini food processor, purée the garlic and basil to form a coarse paste. Slowly add the olive oil to emulsify. Stir in the cheese, if using. Season with salt.
Get this recipe and over 40 other delicious Provence-inspired dishes in Laurent Gras: My Provence, the award-winning online cookbook from renowned chef Laurent Gras, for $9.99.