Summer

Lazy Ratatouille With Pork Chops

August 12, 2020
1 Rating
Photo by Julia Gartland
Author Notes

Ratatouille is a stewed vegetable medley by way of the Provence region of France—a summery, colorful, fragrant dish that Julia Child described in Mastering the Art of French Cooking as “not one of the quicker dishes to make, as each element is cooked separately before it is arranged in the casserole to partake of a brief communal simmer.” This version isn’t like that.

Instead of caringly cooking each vegetable until it’s just right, all the roughage is coarsely chopped, thrown into a casserole dish, and tossed in the oven. Because some of the ingredients are inherently crisper than others—say, bell peppers next to tomatoes, zucchini next to eggplant—this means they’ll cook unevenly. Good! This yields a more dynamic result: some bites slouchy soft, others perky.

The spices and herbs are flexible. Fennel seeds can make way for caraway seeds; red pepper flakes can be ditched for black pepper. And if you strongly prefer rosemary over thyme, or dill over basil? Go with that. It’ll work out. Just adjust all of the above to taste.

Think of the pork chops as icing on the cake. You can work on them while the ratatouille is in the oven and serve together for a happy August meal. But if pork chops aren’t your thing, try that leftover roast chicken from last night, or pan-crisped tempeh, or skip the protein altogether and opt for buttered bread. Whether it’s traditional or streamlined, ratatouille gets along with everyone. —Emma Laperruque

  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Serves 2 to 4
Ingredients
  • 2 bell peppers (preferably a mix of colors, like orange and red)
  • 2 tomatoes (about 1 pound total)
  • 1 globe eggplant (about 1 pound)
  • 1 large zucchini (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1 yellow squash (about 3/4 pound)
  • 6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for roasting
  • 1/4 cup basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 sprigs thyme, stems removed
  • 2 bone-in pork loin chops (about 1-inch thick, 1/2-pound each)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Heat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Prep the vegetables: Roughly chop the bell peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, and squash into 1/2- to 3/4-inch pieces (they don’t have to be perfect). Add these to a large (4 1/2- to 5-quart) baking dish. Add the garlic, salt, fennel seeds, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle very generously with olive oil and toss until everything is completely combined.
  3. Roast the ratatouille for about 1 hour, or until the vegetables are as tender as you like. (This varies a lot by personal preference, so start checking after 40 minutes and go from there.) As soon as the ratatouille comes out of the oven, stir in the basil and thyme. Taste and adjust with salt and pepper flakes as needed.
  4. After the ratatouille has been in the oven for 20 minutes, make a few small, evenly distributed cuts along the fatty border of each pork chop. (This will prevent it from curling in the pan and encourage it to cook evenly.) Now season the pork chops all over with salt and black pepper and let them hang out at room temperature until the ratatouille is done.
  5. When the ratatouille is out of the oven, heat a cast-iron skillet on the stove over medium-high heat. While that heats up, pat the pork chops dry, then lightly sprinkle again with salt and pepper. When the pan is very hot, add the canola oil, then add the pork chops. They should sizzle very loudly. Cook the pork chops for 3 to 5 minutes on the first side, until it’s deeply browned, then 2 to 4 minutes on the second side, until cooked to your liking. (I aim for medium, or an internal temperature of about 140°F. Some people prefer it even rarer, though the USDA recommends 145°F.)
  6. Let the pork chops rest for a few minutes, then serve them with the ratatouille.

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.