(La ratatouille niçoise) - Ratatouia nissarda

1 hour
Total cooking time : 25 minutes

Ingredients for 10 portions :

1 kilo of tomatoes
1 kilo of long aubergines.
1 green pepper
1 red pepper.
1 yellow pepper
1 kilo of little courgette flowers.
4 large white onions
4 cloves of garlic.
thyme and laurel
2 cloves.
1 dose of saffron
3 bunches of parsley.
1 bunch of basiloil,
flour,salt, pepper,anchovy paste.

Just as well known as the salade niçoise and commonly found in all the other French regions, this recipe is regularly massacred by restaurateurs who ignorantly prepare it by throwing all the vegetables into a pressure cooker.
A real ratatouille requires skill and patience... and above all the best tasty summer vegetables. A ratatouille cooked out of season has no taste. It is always prepared in large quantities because it can be eaten hot or cold, as a main dish, as an accompaniment to meat, rice fish or even in an omelette. It is better when reheated.
The secret of a good ratatouille is to fry each vegetable separately before cooking them all together in the onion and tomato.

Start by preparing all the vegetables :
- cut the onions in slices,
- cut the aubergines into slices about 1 cm thick, lightly slash their surface with a pointed knife and leave them to render their liquid by lighly sprinkling them with fine salt,
- after having plunged the tomatoes into boiling water, peel them,
- remove the pips from the peppers and cut them into one cm strips,
- cut the courgettes into thick slices,
- peel the garlic and cut them into thin slices.
In a large cast-iron pot on a hot flame put the onions into the olive oil which has been seasoned with a soup spoon of anchovy paste. Shake in the thyme and add pepper. Stir with a wooden spoon. As soon as the onion starts to brown and before it becomes too dark add the tomatoes, which have previously been pulped, the laurel,parsley, saffron, cloves, and a half lump of sugar to reduce the acidity of the tomatoes.
The secret of a good ratatouille is to fry each vegetable separately.
In one or several pans and at a medium heat fry separately the aubergines which have been lightly sprinkled with flour, (10 minutes), the peppers (10 minutes), and the courgettes (5 minutes). Add salt, pepper, and remove the excess of oil by drying them on paper towels before placing them into the tomato sauce.
Allow the ensemble to simmer on a low heat for 20 to 25 minutes.
At the end of this time add the chopped basil leaves and check the seasoning.
Variations : Exactly as above but without the cloves.
My grandfather used to fry at the same time as the onion a nice piece of salt pork which he had previously blanched for 10 minutes, in order to have a complete summer dish.


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