Text from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, by Julia Child:
"Ratatouille perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence and is certainly one of the great Mediterranean dishes. As it is strongly flavored it is best when it accompanies plain roast or broiled beef or lamb, pot-au-feu (boiled beef), or plain roast, broiled or sauteed chicken. Equally good hot or cold, it also makes a fine accompaniment to cold meats, or may be served as a cold hors d'oeuvre.
A really good ratatouille is not one of the quicker dishes to make, as each element is cooked separately before it is arranged in the casserole to partake of a brief communal simmer. This recipe is the only one we know of that produces a ratatouille in which each vegetable retains its own shape and character. Happily a ratatouille may be cooked completely the day before it is to be served, and it seems to gain in flavor when reheated. "
For 6 to 8 people
1/2 pound eggplant
1/2 pound zucchini
1 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
1/2 pound (about 1 1/2 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers
2 to 3 tablespoons more olive oil, if necessary
2 cloves mashed garlic
1 pound firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced (makes 1 1/2 cups pulp)
3 tablespoons minced parsley
Salt and pepper
Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Dry each slice in a towel.
One layer at a time, saute the eggplant and then the zucchini in hot olive oil in an enameled skillet for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove to a side dish.
In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season to taste.
Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.
Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of a casserole dish and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.
Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning, if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.
Set aside uncovered. If not serving immediately, reheat slowly at serving time or serve cold.