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How to make it: Lulu Peyraud’s ratatouille recipe

Pre-cooking all the veg separately is the key to French winemaker and cook Lulu’s classic recipeWednesday, May 1, 2019

By Lulu Peyraud
Ratatouille

American painter and food writer Richard Olney befriended winemaker and cook Lulu Peyraud in the 1960s on a visit to her vineyard in Provence. This is an edited version of a recipe from their book, Lulu’s Provençal Table. The vegetables are pre-cooked, separately, each in a different way, before being assembled, simmered, and reduced to a melting perfection in which some are dispersed and absorbed into the whole while others retain their own identity. 

Serves: 6
Takes: 3 hrs 15 mins

Ingredients

3 large sweet peppers (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 green)
450g tomatoes, peeled and halved, seeds removed
9 tbsp olive oil, plus extra if needed
2 large sweet onions (450g), peeled and finely sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled, crushed and finely sliced
2-3 courgettes (450g), quartered lengthwise and cut into 2cm chunks
2 aubergines (450g), cut into 2cm cubes bouquet garni (including 2 bay leaves and 2-3 thyme sprigs)

Method

1 Arrange the peppers on a foil-lined baking tray. Grill under a high heat, turning regularly, until skins are charred and blistered (around 20 mins). Transfer to a platter and enclose in a large plastic bag, tucking in the opening to stop the steam escaping. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
2 When the peppers are cool, remove the skins, stem, seeds and core and discard. Tear the peppers apart lengthwise into halves, collecting the juice in the platter and passing it through a sieve into a bowl to remove any seeds. Slice the peppers into narrow strips; set aside with the juices.
3 Warm 3 tbsp of the olive oil in a heavy 9-11-litre pot over a very low heat. Add the onions, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least 30 mins or until melting and simmering in their own juices but uncoloured. Remove the lid, raise the heat slightly and cook, stirring regularly, until the onions are light golden brown. Add the garlic, courgette and a pinch of salt and continue to cook, stirring regularly, while you move on to the next step.
4 Heat 4 tbsp of the oil in a large frying pan, then add the aubergine and a pinch of salt. Saute over a medium heat, tossing for about 10 mins, until the aubergine is softened. Transfer to the pot with the onion and courgette, reserving any oil in the frying pan.
5 Add more oil to the frying pan if needed. Saute the tomatoes with a pinch of salt over a high heat, tossing constantly for about 10 mins, until the liquid has evaporated. Remove from the heat before the tomatoes begin to disintegrate, and transfer to the pot.
6 Add the peppers and their juices to the pot, immerse the bouquet garni and adjust the heat to maintain a simmer, uncovered, for about 2 hrs. Displace the vegetables gently, scraping the bottom and sides of the pot with the wooden spoon from time to time and lowering the heat as the liquid reduces, until all excess liquid has evaporated and the vegetables are coated in a syrupy sauce.
7 Remove from the heat and season with ground black pepper and more salt, if needed. Stir in the remaining 2 tbsp olive oil and serve.

Read our piece about ratatouille

Lulu’s Provençal Table was first published in 1994 and reprinted last year by Grub Street

Published in Issue 5 of National Geographic Traveller Food (UK)

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