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Is there a better summer dish than ratatouille? The Provençal classic makes use of some of summer's best bounty—tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini—for an elegant, simple stew that can be served at any temperature, any time of day. The version in Clotilde Dusoulier's new book, The French Market Cookbook, is made as a tian, or casserole, with paper-thin slices of vegetables, à la Ratatouille (the movie). And while it looks far more elegant than its pot-stewed cousins, this tian is not much more difficult to make, as long as you've got a mandolin handy. If not, just think of this as a good excuse to sharpen your knives and practice your slicing skills.
Why I picked this recipe: Do I really need a reason to make ratatouille in August?
What worked: With such a simple preparation, it really pays to use the best produce you can find. Boy, do these vegetables shine with just a little herbs de Provence, garlic, olive oil, and the gentle heat of the oven.
What didn't: No problems here.
Suggested tweaks: Ideally, you should use eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes that are all roughly the same width. (Smaller varieties of eggplant like Japanese work well here.) That said, I couldn't pass up the colorful round heirloom tomatoes at the market, even though they were a bit bigger in diameter than the other vegetables. Still, the final dish was totally gorgeous.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American and Berkeleyside NOSH, and she blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.