All About Ratatouille, History, Origin, and Variants

The ratatouille is in fact a dish that in its simplicity contains the small pleasures of good food and that makes you rediscover the flavors of the past: the fresh vegetables of the garden, grown in the good land and sprayed by the warm sun of Provence, are picked and washed with care, cleaned and then sliced and fried in good and fragrant oil.

They are flavored with aromatic herbs, basil, garlic cloves, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf; a bouquet that enhances the very flavor of these genuine vegetables.

Where does the name come from 

Where did the name of this colorful accompaniment come from? It alludes etymologically to two French verbs that unite within the Romance language the word “tatouiller and ratatouiller” to finally form the word “ratatouille” – “The verb touiller” means to remove – to shake.

The term ratatouille was first used in the nineteenth century by the French military forces, soldiers used it to name a vegetable broth with few ribs of veal or sheep very different from the ratatouille we know today.

How did you go from a rib broth with vegetables to a delicious vegetarian stew? How did it happen? it is uncertain because it must be taken into account that the vegetables used to prepare this dish began to be cultivated at different times because they arrived in France in different centuries.

Who created the ratatouille?

The homemade ratatouille is a recipe of Provençal origin in particular, from Provence and the former County of Nice. Its creation dates from 1,778. The word ratatouille means motley stew. Rata refers to a mixture of beans and potatoes but also various vegetables, fatty meat and bread. This recipe like the other recipes of Provence gives pride of place to the cuisine of the south. 

Ratatouille was not appreciated in the past. Today, it is becoming a must everywhere in France. This earned him an animated film. This Mediterranean dish is based on sun vegetables including eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, pepper, and onion.

The very first publication of the current recipe for ratatouille, more laudatory, finally appeared a century later, in 1952, in a transport magazine “La Vie du Rail”. Composed of vegetables widely grown by the families of Provence, it is then very close to the Basque piperade as well as the Bohemian, another Provencal dish based on tomatoes and eggplants. For several years now, the greatest chefs have enjoyed cooking ratatouille to transform it into a delicious and refined dish.

Is the ratatouille from Nice or Provençe?

To get the answer, you have to go back in time. When eaten cold in salads or stuffed in an omelette, ratatouille was called Niçoise. But when it was consumed hot the ratatouille was said to be Provençal.

To each his own recipe, but two schools! Well beyond the proportions and seasonings, when we talk about ratatouille, two techniques and two schools clash.

Proponents of “cooking everything together”. After pruning all the vegetables, they fry the vegetables together in olive oil.

Proponents of “one after the other”. In this technique, the cut vegetables will be returned in olive oil in the same casserole but one after the other. So once the onions melt, slightly colored, they are removed from the casserole and placed in a large bowl, to be replaced by peppers, and so on. Once all the vegetables have been cooked and seasoned independently, they are put back together in the casserole to continue cooking.

Some chefs recommend grilling peppers in order to peel them before incorporating them into the ratatouille…

We can honestly say that with the same ingredients, and the same seasoning, we get two different dishes! In one case there will be a lot of water and in the other, we will be more on a stew. 

What ingredients to put in the ratatouille?

The recipes of the ratatouille are very varied. But the recipe for this home cooking is based on different ingredients including seasonal vegetables. It is basically eggplant, zucchini, tomato, pepper, and olive oil. The cooking of this easy ratatouille recipe depends on the other ingredients including straw or white onions and herbs of Provence: basil, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, parsley tail, celery leaves, rosemary, and other herbs of Provence. There are two cooking modes. Vegetables can be cooked together or one by one. It is sometimes recommended to fry them one by one for a few minutes. We then pass the pepper over the flame so that we get rid of its skin. It is also possible to consume cold or hot ratatouille.

This recipe can also be used as an accompaniment to meat or fish. It can also be accompanied by rice, bread, and potatoes. You can put a little color on the plates including green pepper and red pepper, eggplant, and zucchini. You can mix parsley, onion, and tomatoes with other colors… The objective of this ratatouille niçoise or Provence is to obtain a stew cooking of 20 minutes This cooking must be done in a casserole. All the ingredients are cooked with olive oil. We lower the fire and we can mix everything. Then, thyme, rosemary, and laurel are added. We also add the salt, and pepper and simmer it for another 40 minutes The stew is ready. For its flavor to be at the rendezvous, it is advisable to consult the ratatouille books. In this way, we can then diversify this preparation at home on every occasion without being satisfied with zucchini and eggplant. One can add herring, potatoes, duck, poultry, eggs, goat meat, and carrots. However, one cannot do without vegetables, zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. Note that cooking will only take about 1 hour.

variants of the ratatouille

The cousins of the ratatouille! There are infinite variants of the ratatouille since everyone, each will put the ingredients according to his tastes … But beyond the variants of the same recipe, ratatouille has many cousins, known and recognized recipes, here are some, and the list is far from exhaustive…

The emblematic piperade of Basque and Béarnaise cuisines with some variations but it is mainly composed of onions, peppers, tomatoes, peppers and garlic.

Catalan climbing: Its name comes from the Catalan “escalivar” which means to roast in the embers. Eggplants, peppers, onions and tomatoes are traditionally cooked on the barbecue grill. There are of course versions, plancha or oven.

The Provençal bohemian: Tomatoes and eggplants that are pan-fried separately with a clove of garlic in olive oil. During cooking, the two vegetables are mixed with the spatula. At the end of cooking, one to two spoons of anchoïade can be added.3

The Arles riste: composed of eggplants, tomatoes, onions, garlic cloves, bay leaf, thyme, rosemary, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Sicilian caponata: it is a dish based on eggplants, onions, tomatoes, celery, green olives, and capers. Here, vegetables are cooked with a glass of vinegar and a little olive oil.

The Greek Tourlou: the classic vegetables of the ratatouille but also potatoes that will cook in the juice of the vegetables. Everything is smothered in the oven.

Does ratatouille help to lose weight?

Ratatouille is based on vegetables and as is already known, they are rich in dietary fiber and protein. It is therefore obvious that the dish of ratatouille makes you lose weight. With tomatoes and zucchini not to mention olive oil, this slimming diet gives a balanced diet. Moreover, making a ratatouille allows you to lose weight while remaining healthy. It provides exceptional nutritional contributions including fiber, minerals, and vitamins. It is also low in caloric balance.

You can consume each vegetable present in the ingredients of the fast ratatouille such as tomato, zucchini, and eggplant but also peppers. The choice of olive oil was well thought out. It is a source of many benefits because it contains a low fat intake. All the components of this mythical plate of cold ratatouille are excellent slimming allies. In short, to enjoy cold or hot for all occasions.

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