Summer cuisine is definitely my favorite. I love the taste of vegetables and fruits picked at the peak of flavor.
If you have a vegetable garden, you probably have an abundance of tomatoes and zucchini about now. One of the easiest ways to use them up is by making a summer vegetable stew, such as ratatouille.
Traditionally, for ratatouille vegetables are sauteed separately, layered in a dish, covered with sauce and baked. The accompanying recipe follows a streamlined process and it’s just as good.
RATATOUILLE DU MAZAGRAN
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 banana shallots, or 5-6 regular shallots, diced
Large bunch fresh basil
4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
4 tsp. unsalted butter
4 zucchini, sliced ¼-inch thick
1 can plum tomatoes
2 eggplants, sliced ?-inch thick
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
2¼ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
Sea salt and black pepper
Heat a little olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat, add the shallots and cook until translucent. Cut the stems off the basil, finely chop them and add to the pan. Once the basil stems have softened, add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the butter and zucchini, stirring well, then add the tomatoes and 1¼ cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for 1½ hours to thicken and reduce. Taste and season with some salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line two sheet pans with parchment paper. Place the eggplant slices in a colander and sprinkle with salt. Set aside for 10 minutes and pat dry with paper towels. Put the eggplant and squash on one sheet pan, keeping them apart, and the cherry tomatoes on the other. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the squash in the paprika. Roast the tomatoes for 20-30 minutes or until shriveled and sweet. Roast the eggplant and squash for about 40 minutes or until soft and golden.
Once the sauce has simmered, add the roasted vegetables to the pan along with the cherry tomatoes. Roughly tear the basil leaves and toss them into the ratatouille just before serving. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Makes six servings.
From The South of France Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from St. Tropez, by Nina Parker (Weldon Owen, 2016).