There must be as many ways of making ratatouille as there are chefs in France, for appreciation of this ultraflavorful vegetable stew spread north from Provence long ago. The best I ever had was at lunch at a two-star Michelin restaurant in the lavender-swathed foothills up from the coastal road to Nice. The chef kindly shared her recipe — which I have long since lost — but the key was to cook each ingredient separately before combining them all at the end. According to my Provençal cookbook, Recettes de Provence by Andrée Maureau (Edisud), that is indeed the traditional way of making ratatouille. But for everyday French chefs it is far too time-consuming. This recipe, in contrast, is quick and simple, and practically just as good.
Ratatouille / Ratatouille
Ratatouille is usually served as a hot vegetable dish, but it is also wonderful as a summer salad. To serve it as a first course, sprinkle the ratatouille with a few drops of fresh lemon juice, mix well and spoon onto individual plates atop a bed of lettuce. The essential trick here is never to serve the ratatouille cold. To ensure that you receive the full burst of its fabulous flavor, allow the ratatouille to return to room temperature before serving.