Breaking from Julia Child isn’t easy — except when it comes to ratatouille.
For most other French classics, I’ll do whatever Julia, the doyenne of French cuisine, commands, down to blanching, peeling and seeding that very last tomato.
But after spending one too many late summer afternoons glued to the stove, patiently ministering to each separate pan of eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion and tomatoes, I finally tried an easier approach to the dish. A chic Parisian told me about sheet-pan ratatouille, a streamlined take that many French cooks have embraced.
Just as in the classic stovetop version, the vegetables cook on a sheet pan, softening and gracefully absorbing generous amounts of olive oil while their juices mingle, turning fragrant and complex. In the oven, there’s a layer of caramelization and browning that’s not possible in a high-sided pot.
Even better, although the recipe still takes some time to cook, I don’t have to stand there tending it, allowing me to leave the kitchen for cooler, more air-conditioned rooms.
I often serve ratatouille with some sharp cheese or olives as contrasts to the sweet silkiness of the vegetables. In this recipe, I took those same ingredients and threw them into the pan. This gives the cheese a chance to melt and lets the olives bathe in all the oily vegetable juices, becoming plumper and tangier as they heat up.
I love pairing ratatouille with a fresh green salad, some baguette and plenty of chilled rosé.