The Perfect Summer Side Dish

I recently had dinner at a friend’s house where the main dish — grilled, simply seasoned tuna steaks — were accompanied by a terrific side dish that I’m definitely going to be making myself: ratatouille, the classic French dish made popular by the eponymous Disney movie about that lovable rodent that takes over a failing Parisian restaurant’s kitchen. Slightly labor-intensive, what with all the chopping prep work required, it’s well worth it, particularly if you have a burgeoning crop of summer squash (and herbs) you’re looking to use up. Plus, served chilled or hot, with some good crusty bread, it can be a meal all in itself.

Inspired? Here’s a recipe that seems pretty true to the dish that I had, although I’d probably add a shot or two of vinegar (either balsamic or red wine would do) to really brighten the flavors and stretch out its fridge shelf-life an extra day or two.

Ingredients

2 onion, sliced into thin rings

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium eggplant, cubed

2 zucchini, cubed

2 medium yellow squash, cubed

2 green bell peppers, seeded and cubed

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 chopped red bell pepper

4 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped

1/2 cup olive oil

1 bay leaf

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

4 sprigs fresh thyme

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions

  1. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoon of the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until soft.
  2. In a large skillet, heat 1 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and saute the zucchini in batches until slightly browned on all sides. Remove the zucchini and place in the pot with the onions and garlic.
  3. Saute all the remaining vegetables one batch at a time, adding 1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet each time you add a new set of vegetables. Once each batch has been sauteed add them to the large pot as was done in step 2.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. Add the bay leaf and thyme and cover the pot. Cook over medium heat for 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes and parsley to the large pot, cook another 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.
  6. Remove the bay leaf and adjust seasoning.