Though the concept of “cucina povera” stems from Italian heritage, the French have embodied this style of cooking in ratatouille. This quintessential French dish takes the remaining summer produce you have in your fridge and turns it into a cozy, heart-warming vegetable stew that feels like a hug from the inside out. Scarfed down by the spoonful or heaped onto chewy French bread, this rustic ratatouille is an essential recipe to always have on hand. Pair this Provencal dish with a glass of rose from the same region.
Ratatouille: The Quintessential French Recipe of Provence
From east to west, the entire globe has heard of ratatouille. It is the embodiment of France and French food to many. Especially after Disney’s Ratatouille animated movie was released, the name is well known (fun fact: this movie moved me to tears on an international flight from the US to Australia where I watched it for the first time). The dish originates in the Provence region in the south of France, and served in the summer with a glass of rosé is quintessential south-of-France dining.
The Difference Between Ratatouille and Tian
Both ratatouille and tian are Provencal classics made either essentially the same ingredients, but they are not the same thing. You likely have seen countless beautiful dishes of tian inaccurately dubbed as ratatouille. The beautifully sliced vegetables layered meticulously in a dish – that is tian. A less aesthetically stimulating (yet equally delicious) stew of chopped vegetables – that is ratatouille.
Another key difference between the two is the tomato sauce base in tian, layered beneath the concentric circles of tomato, zucchini, and onion. Both dishes are great, but ratatouille has more of a casual, “cucina povera” feel to it. Ratatouille is the option for a quick meal where you’re not looking to impress (but will anyway because of how delicious it is). Tian is for those slightly more refined meals where visuals are important. At least, that’s how I see it.
Pair This Provençal Dish with a Provençal Rosé
This wine pairing is a no brainer. Opt for a crisp rosé from Provence for this recipe. As well, you’ll use the rosé wine while cooking the ratatouille so it’ll be an even more perfect pairing.
Typical notes you’ll find in a Provençal Rosé are red fruits, melon, often some minerality, and perhaps a hint of florals. Light bodied and crisp, it’s a perfect summer wine for this seasonal end-of-summer recipe.
If you decide to make this recipe in the colder months, opting for a French red like a Merlot-dominant blend from St-Émilion or Bordeaux could be a cozy switch up as well!Print
- 1 eggplant, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1 yellow squash, chopped
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1–2 heirloom tomatoes, chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/8 cup of rosé
- A handful of fresh basil leaves
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- Salt, pepper, and chili flakes to taste
- Sprinkle the chopped eggplant with the salt and toss to coat. Let the eggplant sit for 15 minutes while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Have a large empty serving bowl set aside.
- Drain the eggplant juices that have accumulated from the salt after the 15 minutes using a colander. Pat the eggplant with paper towels to dry.
- Bring a large skillet to medium heat with 1/3 cup of olive oil. Add the eggplant and cook for about 10-12 minutes or until tender. Transfer the eggplant to your large serving bowl.
- In the same skillet, add a drizzle of more olive oil and the chopped zucchini. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and cook for about 8 minutes. If zucchini starts sticking to the pan, add more olive oil as needed. Transfer the zucchini to the bowl with the eggplant.
- Repeat this process with the onion, cooking for 8 minutes or until translucent and soft.
- Repeat the process again for the bell peppers (cook until tender, 10 minutes). This time, add in the minced garlic with about 1-2 minutes left in the cooking process.
- Finally, repeat this process one last time with the tomatoes, basil, and chili flakes. Remember your olive oil and salt as well. Let the tomatoes cook for 10 minutes, then add in the wine. Let the wine cook down and evaporate some of the alcohol for about 5 minutes.
- Combine all cooked ingredients and toss together in the large serving bowl. Drizzle with some extra olive oil and salt to taste.
- Serve hot, at room temp, or even cold with some fresh French bread and butter, over rice or farro, or enjoy by the spoonful on its own. Pair with a glass of the same rosé wine.
- Give this recipe a more cozy, autumnal feel by swapping the basil for rosemary and the rosé for a merlot.
- If you have a large enough skillet or are short on time, you can cook all of the vegetables together. However, I find that cooking each vegetable separately prevents any from being over or under cooked.
- If you cook the vegetables all at the same time, add them to the skillet in order from longest time to cook to shortest time to cook.
Keywords: ratatouille, french, provence, stew, seasonal, summer, rose wine