Ratatouille: The taste of summer from the south of France

open air market
Where the French buy ingredients for ratatouille

Before long, fresh summer vegetables are going to be available in abundance. Might be from your garden. Might be from the Farmers Market. Might be from a generous friend or neighbor. But no matter how you get them, they’re coming sooner than you think. Pressure cooker ratatouille is a fabulous way to use up some of this bounty.

Modern day ratatouille consist of stewed vegetables with a tomato base. It is said it have its origin in Nice (pronounced ‘niece’) France. The basic ingredients consist of tomatoes, eggplant, onions, garlic, zucchini, bell peppers, and the spices marjoram, and basil.  Ingredients that scream ‘summer’.  And the south of France.

I have been making a stove top version of ratatouille for years. My version is very basic and garden friendly. It doesn’t have eggplant. I’m not anti-eggplant. It’s just that not many of us are growing it in our gardens. I pretty much stick with onions, garlic, zucchini, tomatoes, and Italian spices. If I have squash, I throw it in. Green peppers too if I have them. But the squash and peppers aren’t standard for me.

I also have a secret ingredient. Spaghetti sauce. Either a jar of Ragu or Prego. Or whatever sauce is your personal favorite. I like to use the ones that are flavored with basil, garlic, onion, roasted red pepper, or even the chunky sauces. Really whatever you like. These jarred sauces are already seasoned and add another layer of flavor to the final dish.

When I make my version of ratatouille the traditional way (a.k.a. on the stove top) I allow it to simmer for about 1.5 to 2 hours. I like my vegetables to be just about disintegrated so this works great for me. While I was reading up on ratatouille I found that according to the Larousse Gastronomique (the bible of French cooking), each vegetable should be cooked separately then cooked together to reach a state of creaminess. Simply put, your vegetables should not be al dente or have a crunch to them.

When the temperatures outside are boiling, and your house isn’t air-conditioned (true story), then the 2 hour simmer makes the kitchen unbearably hot. If you have a pressure cooker, problem solved. It does not heat up the kitchen! Throw your ingredients into the pot, lock the lid, make sure the vent is on Seal, and set the cook time for 7 minutes. At the end of the cook time do a QR. If you want your vegetables to be softer try 1 more minute under pressure. Or cook them a little longer without pressure using the Sauté button. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve topped with freshly grated Parmesan. Or use the grated cheese in the jar with the green shaker lid if that’s what you have on hand. Cooking and eating are based on what you, personally, like. There are no strict rules to follow. Heck, if you like shredded sharp cheddar, top your bowl of ratatouille with that. I happen to know that it’s a delicious addition. A nice touch would be toasted slices of a French baguette with some [affiliate link] flavored olive oil on the side for dipping. Délicieux!

ratatouille on broiled cod
Broiled cod topped with ratatouille

There are already several pressure cooker ratatouille recipes on the internet. I’m not adding my variation to the mix. Honestly, once you know the ingredients involved and the method, you’re ready to start cooking.

Here are two recipes for pressure cooker ratatouille to use as a jumping off point. You’ll see similarities in terms of method and slight differences in terms of ingredients. Make either one exactly as written. Or pare back on some ingredients and make ratatouille my way. Gardening Girl calls for ½ cup of tomato sauce. Pressure Luck calls for tomato paste. I’m telling you the jarred spaghetti sauces are the way to go. I use a whole jar. You add as much or as little as you like.

Now when the abundant vegetables of summer arrive at your door, you’re ready to roll with your recipe for pressure cooker ratatouille. I made it My Way. Feel free to make it Your Way. Bon appétit!

outdoor restaurant
Picture yourself in Provence enjoying your ratatouille with this view.
Pressure cooking is fast, easy, and fun! Please share!

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