Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Ratatouille's Ratatouille

Yesterday's "meatless" Monday is a classic favorite of ours. Ever since we watched the brilliant Pixar movie "Ratatouille", I knew I had to make ratatouille this way. Traditionally this is a peasant vegetable "stew", but honestly, Thomas Keller's adaptation of this dish has taken this to a new level. Simple healthy ingredients, impressive looking and absolutely satisfying. 

It's nice to try to buy all the vegetables the same diameter (easier to stack and layer), which is why I specify an Asian eggplant/aubergine. It's only because they are skinnier, but any one will work. You'll find that just a few veggies goes a long way.

This is one of my favorite dishes to prepare with children of any age! 

2-3 fresh tomatoes, pureed with a pinch of sea salt
2 Tbsps olive oil, divided
3 tsps fresh thyme, basil parsley, or oregano, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped 
1 garlic clove, finely chopped 
1 Asian eggplant/aubergine 
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow/summer squash 
2-3 small plum tomatoes
1⁄2 red bell pepper

Sea salt and pepper
  • Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). 
  • Pour tomato puree, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and half of the chopped fresh herbs into a baking dish. Stir in the chopped shallot and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. 
  • Using a mandolin, or a really sharp knife, thinly and evenly slice the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and red pepper (clean out the seeds). Make the slices thin, about 1/8' (3mm) thick. The thinner, the better!
  • Make mini-stacks of the slices in sequence: Eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, red pepper. Eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, red pepper.... 
  • Arrange a few stacks at a time into prepared baking dish in a concentric spiral from the outer edge to the inside, fanning them out a bit so that you can only see the slightest bit another. “Stand” them up a little, so you can fit as many vegetable slices in as possible, but you may still have some leftover veggie slices. Save the smaller rounds for the middle. 
  • Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped herbs. 
  • Cover the dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit just inside the dish rim, directly on top of the vegetable arrangement.
  • Bake for 40 minutes-1 hour (depending on how thick your vegetable slices are), until vegetables are soft, but not limp. 
*If fresh tomatoes aren't available, substitute with 3/4 cup (180ml) Pomi tomato puree

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