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Traditional French Provencal vegetable dish oven-cooked to perfection by Chef Antoine


Garden-fresh vegetables are ready for picking in the hot summer days of the Mediterranean. With endless possibilities for these ripe and vibrant produce, there is one unquestioned dish of choice in the south of France that has become a household staple when the season of harvest begins: the classic ratatouille.

With this recipe originating from the famed region of Provence, the ratatouille owes its existence to humble beginnings. For centuries, it was considered a peasant’s treasure, as poor farmers had to make a choice: throw out a surplus of continuously ripening vegetables or use them to create rustic, heartwarming meals. The answer was easy, and the dish was born as a solution to nature’s gift.

This unpretentious course is a delightful dance of colors, textures and flavors melded by its base ingredients: zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and bell peppers. While these vegetables have a pleasant crunch to them when eaten raw, fusing them together into a steamy comfort dish creates a melting pot of aromatic enjoyment. Typically eaten with a warm bowl of soft, fragrant rice or as a complimentary dish to an entrée, it has evolved into a standalone recipe—and rightfully so. It has found its way not just on the dining tables of our families, but in well-respected restaurants and even in film and pop culture.

With French cooking being the focus of Chef Antoine Lours, he has brought his mastery in culinary skills to New York. There is a great sense of pride that comes with introducing a dish he has known so well from his childhood, long before he has traveled the world to discover the distinct tastes from places he’s visited.

Chef Antoine’s version of ratatouille is oven-baked to perfection—with the right temperature and a perfect balance of ingredients brought together, the whole house will smell of fond memories, and one that brings him back to his grandmother’s kitchen, where he learned all about the French cuisine.

He recommends savoring this dish over a fine bottle of red wine and over shared conversations with friends.

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • ½ white onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup garlic, finely minced
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided in two parts
  • ¾ cup water
  • Sea salt and cracked/ground black pepper to taste
    1. 1 eggplant
    2. 1 zucchini
    3. 1 yellow squash
    4. 1 red bell pepper
    5. 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
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DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  • Cut off the ends of the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and bell peppers. Thinly slice each one and set aside separately.
  • In a medium bowl, mix in the crushed tomatoes, water and olive oil. Blend together into a smooth, rich paste.
  • Evenly coat the base of your glass or ceramic baking dish with the tomato paste. Layer a sprinkle of chopped onions and garlic, which will fuse the flavors of all other ingredients later on.
  • Add a few dashes of sea salt, followed by freshly-cracked black pepper. Take one part of the olive oil and drizzle a generous amount to your liking.
  • Depending on the shape of your dish, start by laying out alternate pieces of the sliced vegetables from the corners or outermost edges, layering them in a way that at least ¼ of the slice peeks out of each overlap. Continue to arrange them inwards to form a beautiful bed of hues spiraling into the center.
  • Afterwards, drizzle the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top it off with freshly-picked thyme leaves.
  • Put a sheet of parchment paper over the vegetables to cover the top fully and prevent its juices from evaporating.
  • Place inside the oven and let the slow baking start. Let this cook for about 40 minutes, occasionally checking if the vegetables are soaking in the seasonings and becoming soft.
  • Once the vegetables have beautifully roasted, remove the parchment paper and add little drops of fresh mascarpone cheese on top. Serve.