When it comes to cooking, everything Julia Child is hot these days, no doubt thanks to the movie, Julie and Julia, and Streep’s magical performance as the passionate Child. Maybe that’s why my friend Peter, when browsing the net for ratatouille recipes for  his dinner party, decided to try her version (from  Mastering the Art of French Cuisine.)


Hearing of his choice, I grabbed my favourite apron and eagerly skipped over to his house to help.  We got quite excited by the recipe. (We even pretended we were 1950s housewives on a Friday afternoon, preparing a dinner party for our ad exec hubbies using Child’s then-new cookbook.)


Since seeing the movie, and adoring it (see Julie and Julia and Me) I’m ashamed to say I still hadn’t actually looked at any of Child’s cookbooks and I have to say, her writing style is remarkable.  I love the way she describes why this recipe works;


“A really good ratatouille is not one of the quicker dishes to make, as each element is cooked separately before it is arranged in the casserole to partake of a brief communal simmer.  This recipe is the only one we know of that produces a ratatouille in which each vegetable retains its own shape and character…”


And she’s right. The extra labour in her recipe is worth it.   The flavours and texture of each vegetable remain truly distinct.  It’s not a ratatouille mush. Even more thrilling, without a drop of added sugar, the delectable sweetness of this stew was astonishing.
I picked up some expensive Italian egg noodles at my local epicerie to go with it. (After all the hard work, I felt this rataouille deserved to be paired with the best.)  I also liked that our dinner party meal was totally vegetarian (we opened with a spinach soup I improvised.) However, this dish would also work well as a side for grilled meat or chicken.


Next time, I’m going to double the batch. It was that good.  Here’s Julia’s wonderful recipe:



Julia Child’s Ratatouille





1/2 pound eggplant
1/2 pound zucchini
3-quart, porcelain or stainless-steel mixing bowl
1 teaspoon salt
A 10- to 12-inch enameled skillet
4 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
1/2 pound (about 1 1/2 cups) thinly sliced yellow onions
2 (about 1 cup) sliced green bell peppers
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil, if necessary
2 cloves mashed garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound firm, ripe, red tomatoes, peeled, seeded and juiced (makes 1 1/2 cups pulp)
Salt and pepper
A 2 1/2 quart fireproof casserole about 2 1/2 inches deep
3 tablespoons minced parsley
Salt and pepper




Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8 inch thick, about 3 inches long and 1 inch wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends and cut the zucchini into slices about the same size as the eggplant slices. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain. Dry each slice in a towel.


One layer at a time, saute the eggplant and then the zucchini in hot olive oil in the skillet for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove to a side dish.
In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season to taste.
Slice the tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, baste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes, until juice has almost entirely evaporated.


Place a third of the tomato mixture in the bottom of the casserole and sprinkle over it 1 tablespoon of the parsley. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.
Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning, if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole.



Peter Dimakos is the new Julia Child. In his loft, he takes Julie's recipe very seriously.



Browning each strip of eggplant and zucchini is time consuming, but worth it.


Constant basting is key in Julia's recipe.

Constant basting is key in Julia's recipe.



Layering also keeps vegetables distinct. (Rachel Ray's orange casserole dish was the perfect vessel for Julia's ratatouille.))



Quality Italian egg noodles paired beautifully with this dish.

2 Responses to “Julia Child Is the New Black (and her ratatouille is to die for)”

  1. celia Says:

    first of all, that is the SWEETEST comment anyone has ever left me! thank you.

    second, i’m currently obsessed with poached eggs (see today’s post), and i’ve made julia’s ratatouille… and put a poached egg on top. can you say, mind bending?!?

    third, i can’t wait to scroll through more of your blog. so far, so fantastic! and, the name? love it!!!

  2. laura Says:

    I found Celia’s blog while combing the net for Julia Child recipes and was instantly transported into her magical life in California. The photos are AMAZING, and her blog is like an online diary of exquisite pressed flowers. Check it out!

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