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The great Provencal vegetable mélange (based on bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and garlic) is prepared in hundreds of ways. The simplest method involves throwing all of the vegetables into a large pot and cooking them together. More refined methods involve the separate cooking of each vegetable and a brief commingling at the end. Then there's the question of cooking time: short, for maximum distinctness of each vegetable; or long for maximum development of flavor? We like 'em both. But the following recipe, our favorite, is long on time, and sacrifices the greater good of communal depth.

We like to serve this lusty, burnished ratatouille at room temperature as a first course, or as part of a Southern French first-course array that includes olives, cheese, anchovies, and crusty bread. You could serve it warm as a side dish or, like many modern chefs, use it for sandwiches, omelets, salads, and pizza and as a base for grilled fish. Its uses are endless. Serves 10 as a first course or side dish.

SKU 1115-recipe


  • 2 pounds onions
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 pounds zucchini
  • 2 pounds yellow squash
  • 2 pounds green bell peppers
  • 1 pound yellow bell peppers
  • 1 pound red bell peppers
  • 2 pounds eggplant
  • 2 pounds fresh ripe tomatoes
  • about ½ cup olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • 4 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1½ cups vegetable stock (or thin tomato juice)
  • freshly ground pepper to taste


  1. Peel the onions and chop them coarsely. Peel the garlic and crush the peeled cloves with the flat part of a knife.
  2. Cut zucchini and yellow squash, unpeeled, into 1/2-inch cubes. Remove the stems and seeds from the bell peppers, and cut the peppers into 1/2-inch-square pieces. Cut the eggplant into 1/2-inch cubes.
  3. Remove the stems from the tomatoes, and crisscross the bottoms with a small sharp, knife. Plunge into boiling water for a minute or 2, until the skin starts to fall away. Refresh in cold water and remove the skin. Cut the tomatoes in half lengthwise, and remove all seeds. Chop tomatoes coarsely.
  4. Put 1½ tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy pan over moderate heat. Add the onions. Cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes, and add the garlic. Reduce heat to very low. You will shortly add other vegetables to this pan, and total cooking time on top of the stove will be about 45 minutes.
  5. While the onions and garlic are cooking over very low heat, put another frying pan over high heat until it starts to smoke, and the add 1½ tablespoons of olive oil. Add enough zucchini cubes all at once to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook over high heat until zucchini is lightly browned on all sides. Remove the zucchini cubes and put them in the pan with the onions. Repeat the process until all the zucchini cubes have been have been cooked. Do the same with the yellow squash. Make sure to add a little olive oil between each new batch. Continue with the bell peppers, then the eggplant cubes, adding the browned vegetables to the onion pan as soon as they are cooked.
  6. When all the vegetables are browned and added to the onion pan, stir them together, and increase the heat to high. Add the salt to taste, thyme, bay leaf and rosemary and stir well. Cover the pan, place in a preheated 400° oven and add 1½ cups vegetable stock. After 1 hour, remove pan from the oven, and place ingredients of pan in a colander set over a bowl. If liquid drains out of the vegetable mixture, return the liquid to the pan, and reduce it to a thick glaze. While it is cooking, you can add additional juices that run out of the vegetables.
  7. When all the juices have been reduced, return the vegetables to the pan. (You should have a shiny, moist ratatouille, with very little liquid.) Turn the heat off. Add the chopped tomatoes, and cover. If serving as a warm side dish, let the ratatouille stand for 10 minutes, just enough to “cook” the tomatoes. If serving at room temperature, let the pan stand until it comes to room temperature. The ratatouille is even better if you let it stand overnight.
  8. When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf, and season to taste with salt and black pepper.