Monday, August 17, 2009

Julia Child's Ratatouille...for her birthday

I saw the movie Julie and Julia the day it touched me so. Memories came flooding back to me. I learned to cook from her so many years ago...Mastering the Art of French Cooking, one of the first cookbooks I owned...The French Chef, later Julia Child and More Company. How to Cook...all of them actually....I made her Cassoulet in a toaster oven hooked up to a converter when I lived in Heidelberg... a beautiful Potato Gratin in that same oven. We lived in a tiny little one room apartment, nothing but a two burner hot plate and then that toaster oven. I made some fabulous meals husband still marvels at how I was able to serve four hot dishes from a two burner hot plate. I was young and so enamored of cooking...I have spent the past days looking through all the cookbooks...reading recipes...and remembering. I decided to read "My Life in France" was even better the second time around.

It is summer and I had garden tomatoes, zucchini, and an what could be better than
Julia's is a bit fussier than most recipes, but so worth the extra few minutes. It is so delicious...
Last night we had it with grilled chicken on the bone, marinated with Herbs de Provence, lemon juice, and a bit of olive oil, Israeli couscous, and a huge green salad....tonight we had it on some crostini rubbed with raw garlic, a glass of Sauvignon blanc and the warm evening air. I still have lots...I am thinking of it in an omelet, a quiche, or a puff pastry tart...or just eating it straight from the fridge with a fork....
I made it exactly as written..except I added some thyme from my garden...I love thyme in this.

Recipe from Mastering the Art of French Cooking Julia Child

* 1/2 pound eggplant
* 1/2 pound zucchini, trimmed
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 7 tablespoons olive oil, divided
* 1 8-ounce onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
* 2 green bell peppers, thinly sliced into strips
* 2 garlic cloves, pressed
* 1 pound firm but ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cut into 3/8- to 1/4-inch-thick strips
* 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley


Peel eggplant; cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices, then cut into 3-inch-long, 1-inch-wide strips. Cut zucchini into same size strips. Place vegetables in large bowl; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Drain; dry with paper towels.
Heat 4 tablespoons oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add eggplant and zucchini to skillet; sauté until light golden, about 1 minute per side. Transfer to plate; reserve.
Add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet; heat over medium heat. Add onion and peppers; sauté until just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
Place tomato strips atop onion-pepper mixture in skillet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover skillet; cook over low heat until tomatoes begin to juice, about 5 minutes. Uncover; baste vegetables in skillet with juices. Boil until juices are almost evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer 1/3 of onion-pepper-tomato mixture to 2 1/2-quart pot; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Top with half of eggplant and half of zucchini, then remaining onion-pepper-tomato mixture; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Layer remaining eggplant and zucchini over; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley. Cover; simmer over low heat 10 minutes. Uncover; tilt pot and baste with accumulated juices. Increase heat to medium; simmer uncovered, basting several times with pan juices until only 2 to 3 tablespoons juices remain in pot, watching closely to avoid scorching, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper. DO AHEAD Can be made 8 hours ahead. Cool slightly. Cover; chill. Serve at room temperature or rewarm over medium-low heat before serving.


  1. Linda, this is my kind of dish! I want to stick a fork in and eat the whole thing! I have got to try that soon.

  2. I adore ratatouille~ What a lovely homage to Julia..How fortunate for you to have learned with her.
    I can imagine those 2 burner 4 course hot meals were delish:) How nice that you looked through your books..the pages..the covers..the recipes..the memories.

  3. What a great idea to serve it on crostini! Some of my favorite flavors in this dish -

  4. Your story is such a great birthday tribute! The memories....and the ratatouille looks delicious!

  5. This is like comfort food! I've never tried Julia Child's recipes and now I know where to start =)

  6. Linda, I've never made Julia version of ratatouille, but I am going to make it soon, thank you for the inspiration.

    BTW, you make it look so appetizing ~ not an easy task!

    I adore your memories of cooking along with Julia. I feel the same way about learning from her ~ cherished memories, that's for sure.

    Happy Birthday dear Julia.

    Okay, I'm going now to pull out her books to reread them. :) xo

  7. Such a lovelly post, my friend! =)
    I couldn't agree more regarding dear Julia. She was truly a national treasure!


  8. Wow am I impressed with your cooking history! I love ratatouille and yours (Julia's) is stunning! I'll bet it was fantastic!

  9. Thank you for your heartwarming, vivid, inspiring post. I actually visualised you whipping up your fabulous meals in that little apartment! Your Ratatouille is so wholesome and pretty.

  10. Ohhhh, I miss Julia. I grew up watching her cook. I haven't seen the film yet, I have to wait till it comes to Belgium. I read the book, though, and it makes me want to see the movie. Just like this post makes me what to make ratatouille....the essence of summer.