~Chef Perry Perkins~
“Ratatouille doesn’t sound delicious. It sounds like “rat” and “patootie.” Rat-patootie, which does not sound delicious.” – Linguini
With all respect to Monsieur Linguini, while ratatouille may not sound delicious, it tastes freakin’ awesome! This is one of my all-time favorite side dish recipes for grilled or rotisserie chicken.
Ratatouille (pronounced rat-eh- too-ee) is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice. The full name of the dish is ratatouille niçoise.
There is much debate on how to make a traditional ratatouille. One method is to simply sauté all of the vegetables together. Some cooks, including Julia Child, insist on a layering approach, where the aubergine and the courgettes are sautéed separately, while the tomatoes, onion, garlic and bell peppers are made into a sauce.
American chef Thomas Keller popularized a contemporary variation, confit byaldi, for the 2007 animated film Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a dish extremely popular with dieters.
This is because not only is it low in fat and calories, but high in nutrients.
Personally, I think the most flavorful way or preparing ratatouille is on the grill, creating a deep smoky flavor while maintaining the integrity of very delicate veggies like squash and eggplant.
Here’s how I do it…
2 zucchini, halved lengthwise
2 eggplant, halved lengthwise
2 yellow squash, halved lengthwise
2 red onions, halved
1 pint grape tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
2 yellow bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and quartered
½ cup olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 Tbs finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
¼ cup finely chopped Italian parsley leaves
¼ cup fresh basil leaves, torn
When the coals under your top-grate are at medium-high heat, you’re ready to grill! Make sure you have a “cool zone” in case the oil causes flare-ups.
Toss all veggies in a bowl with the 1/2 cup of olive oil, and coat well. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
Grill veggies, cut side down for 5 to 6 minutes, turning halfway through the cooking time.
Remove the tomatoes, cover your grill, and cook the remaining vegetables for 2 more minutes, or until almost cooked through. Turn once or twice.
Transfer vegetables to a cutting board and coarsely chop (leave the tomatoes whole).
Put the chopped vegetables and tomatoes in a large bowl, add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, garlic, oregano and parsley and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Serve at room temperature, with toasted pita wedges and goat cheese.
Note: The leftovers, if you have any, are great the next morning over eggs scrambled with a little feta cheese!
As a third-generation chef, Perry P. Perkins focuses his love of cooking on barbeque, traditional southern fare, and fresh Northwest cuisine.
Perry runs the non-profit organization, MY KITCHEN Outreach Program, which teaches nutrition, shopping, and hands on cooking classes for at risk youth.
His cookbooks include La Caja China Cooking, La Caja China World, La Caja China Party, and the NEW “La Caja China Grill.”
You can follow the rest of Chef Perry’s cooking adventures at ChefPerryPerkins.com