Grace Kelly was not my first favorite actress, but so far in my discovery of classic cinema, the Princess of Monaco continues to be one of my most enduring favorite stars. I continue to adore her, idolize her, and attempt to embody her inner and outer beauty to this day, so it seems like it would be no secret that I have attempted to find all of her available recipes for years now. On the outside, one might assume that Grace Kelly wasn’t a chef, but I never gave up hope that I would one day find a recipe of hers that I could recreate, and last October, that day finally came. I reached out to a fellow vintage film foodie, informing her that I was hosting a Hitchcock-themed Halloween party and that any recipes made by Hitch or his pantheon of stars would be more than welcome. Words can’t describe my delight when she replied with about a dozen recipes, including this enticing dish from the kitchen of Grace herself! Ultimately, I ended up making some of the other recipes that more closely resembled party foods, but kept Grace Kelly’s Ratatouille Nicoise recipe close, saving it for the perfect occasion. I can’t think of any occasion more appropriate to finally prepare this entrée and honor Grace than what would have been her 90th birthday, so here’s how to make her version of this French classic!
Grace Kelly’s Ratatouille Nicoise
- 1 onion (I used white)
- 1 pound of zucchini squash
- 2 eggplants (Eggplants must have been much smaller in Grace’s day, so I only used one!)
- 6 fresh tomatoes
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 basil leaf
- 1 laurel (bay) leaf
- A bit of thyme
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- Heat olive oil in pan and stew all vegetables together.
- Simmer until well cooked (this took me twenty minutes).
- Serve hot or cold. Serves 4.
As is the case with most ratatouille recipes, the effort put into Grace’s dish lies almost entirely in the prep work. The actual instructions are incredibly vague, but I diced the onion, peppers, eggplant, zucchini, and tomatoes, and once I placed everything in my (very large) pot and added seasoning, the rest was just a waiting game while everything melded together, which took far less time than it did to prepare. I figured there was no better way to honor Grace and pass the time than to watch one of her movies while I cooked and ate her ratatouille dish, and after perusing my DVD collection for a bit, I decided on the perfect film to pair with her meal: To Catch a Thief (1955). I chose it not only because it had been years since I’d seen the movie and I desperately missed seeing Grace donning that gorgeous Edith Head wardrobe in vivid color, but also because I thought a steaming bowl of ratatouille would pair splendidly with the stunning shots of the French riviera, making a fitting French-themed evening all around!
As for the recipe itself, I do think that the instructions, as well as some of the ingredients, are too vague. I had to make notes and clarifications on the recipe itself and use some of my prior experience creating vegetable ratios for other recipes in order to correct this one. If I had created this dish exactly as stated, I would have had so much eggplant that it would have drowned out everything else! Once I made those corrections, however, the end result was surprisingly delicious and flavorful considering how simple the ingredients and seasonings were. Classic Hollywood stars must have loved their vegetables, because I have many recipes that are nearly identical to this one in my archives, including one from fellow Hitchcock actor Gregory Peck. When my boyfriend saw the completed dinner, he even remarked that he’d seen me make the exact same thing before, even though I had never tried Grace’s recipe! All of that aside, I really do think Grace’s version is the best that I’ve made, and if I ever feel like whipping up some ratatouille in the future, this will definitely be my go-to recipe, and I believe it should be yours too! Who knows, maybe I’ll revisit Grace’s recipe as well as To Catch a Thief very soon!