This ratatouille is a striking departure from the classical French dish in which vegetables are cooked together until they become soft and the flavors marry. In this version all the ingredients retain their own identity. I learned this version from the late food maven, writer and teacher Bert Greene. It’s easy to prepare and makes a delectable one-dish meal along with some warm crusty French bread.
2 lbs. Italian sweet sausage, cut into ½-inch slices*
½ stick sweet butter
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, sliced
5 large shallots, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, mashed
½ lb. string beans, sliced lengthwise (Frenched)
2 green peppers, seeded and cut in strips
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
5 ripe tomatoes (seeded), roughly cut
½ t sugar
1 packet G. Washington beef bouillon powder
Dash of dried hot pepper flakes
4 zucchini squash, thinly sliced
2 T chopped Italian parsley
Optional: Freshly grated Fontina Cheese
Rub a large skillet with oil. Heat until it is very hot. Add sausage and sauté quickly. Remover sausage and drain on paper towels.
Add butter and oil to skillet and sauté the onion, shallots and garlic until transparent and golden. Add sliced stringbeans and pepper strips. Season with salt and pepper and stir-fry.
Add tomato pieces. Correct seasoning with a sprinkling of sugar (to caramelize the tomatoes) and bouillon powder (to fuse the flavors). Add a dash of dried hot pepper flakes. Cook over moderately high heat for about 8 – 10 minutes, until tomatoes soften.
Stir sausages into vegetables. Add zucchini and toss well for about 6 – 7 minutes longer. Serve garnished with chopped parsley and/or freshly grated Fontina cheese. Serves 4 – 6.
*Chris at A&S Pork Store, Albany Post Road, Croton, makes the best sausage. You might want to use a combination of hot and sweet.
Photos by Sweetpaprika