Like Remy's from the Ratatouille movie.
The first time I made ratatouille was during my sophomore year in college. I was pretty new to cooking at that point and hadn't quite discovered my passion for food. I had a few friends over and they enthusiastically suggested making ratatouille. I don't exactly remember how it tasted but I do recall the joy in putting it together amongst the company of friends.
The second time I made ratatouille was again with friends where we arranged it in a similar manner as above. However, I've never made it with a mandoline. Obviously, a mandoline christening requires something like ratatouille to be made. I have found that a mandoline works very well for more firm vegetables like zucchini and summer squash. It also works well for peppers but the eggplant was a bit too squishy to yield whole slices all of the time. That was okay because it was all going to be cooked together in the end and the slicing did make the process a lot faster.
But, if you find yourself sans mandoline, a sharp knife and some patience will do the trick.
I like ratatouille for its simplicity. It does take a bit of time if you desire to arrange it nicely and like that type of thing but it doesn't take much to create the bold flavors that accompany this dish. The sauce consists of tomato sauce, olive oil, onion, salt and pepper. Garlic too, but that is optional and also I didn't have anymore on hand. The vegetables are layered on top and the ratatouille is finished with another swirl of olive oil and dried herbs like oregano and basil. The key to cooking ratatouille is the parchment paper that gets placed on top. This helps to steam the vegetables so that they are nice and soft and soak up the sauce.
To arrange, alternate between summer squash, zucchini, eggplant and bell pepper until a compact spiral forms and all of the vegetables are used up.
I definitely do not have the skills to plate this as well as an animated rat but this is a rustic dish that deserves to be eaten immediately rather than taken the time to be plated nicely. The nice arranging was already done before baking.
Best with carbs like pasta, garlic bread or cheesy bread.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen's Ratatouille's Ratatouille
Yields: 4 servings
- 1 cup tomato puree
- ½ cup chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 garlic clove minced (optional)
- 1 zucchini
- 1 Japanese eggplant
- 1 summer squash
- 1 red pepper (on the skinny side)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Cut out a piece of parchment paper that fits snugly in the top of your dish. Set aside.
In a cast iron skillet or oven proof baking dish, mix together tomato puree, chopped onion, 1 tablespoon olive oil, garlic (if using) and salt and pepper.
Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice zucchini, Japanese eggplant, summer squash, and red bell pepper in 1/16"-1/8" thin rounds. To arrange, alternate between summer squash, zucchini, eggplant and bell pepper until a compact spiral is formed and all of the vegetables are used up. Sprinkle dried oregano and basil and the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Place parchment paper on top.
Bake for 45-55 minutes or until vegetables are soft and steaming.
Serve immediately with bread or pasta.