Ratatouille, one of Julia Child's favorite recipes, perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence and is a seasonal favorite throughout the Mediterranean region. Since it has a strong flavor, any simply prepared meat such as a roast chicken, broiled beef or lamb, will make a perfect meal pairing.
Equally good hot or cold, it also makes a fine accompaniment to cold meats, or may be served as an appetizer.
Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8-inch thick, about 3 inches long, and 1 inch wide.2.
Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends, and cut into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices.3.
Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Dry each slice in a towel.3.
One layer at a time, saute the eggplant, and then the zucchini in hot olive oil for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove and place to the side.4.
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.5.
Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper.6.
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.7.
Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle the parsely over the mixture. 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.8.
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.9.
Remove from the oven and set aside uncovered. Before serving, reheat slowly or serve cold.
Reprinted with permission from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (1961)