Ratatouille is a classic vegetable dish starring eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion and tomato that is deeply steeped in the culture of Mediterranean France. When I married a man from Provence, one of the first lessons I received from my new mother-in-law Muriel was how to make a proper ratatouille.
Turns out, my American sensibilities had me cooking a ratatouille far too long, making it a stew of indistinguishable mixed vegetables.
Muriel was kind in her rebuke, and showed me her way instead. The most important lesson was to cook each vegetable separately. Moreover, the vegetables needed to be cooked in the same pan, in a specific order, so that the flavors would be built just right. (The order: eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onion, tomatoes. I use the acronym EZ-POT to remember.)
I was skeptical. But her version is easily the best I have ever eaten.
After years of following proper EZ-POT protocol, I decided to try an outdoor grilled version of ratatouille. A little summertime char on the veggies could be a good thing. And indeed it was.
Grilled ratatouille is a happy complement to grilled meat or fish, and it's hearty enough to be the main dish for vegetarians. And leftovers can be spooned on top of roasted potatoes, rice, a green salad, or even spread on toast.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."