Friday, July 30, 2010

Ratatouille, like in the movie

Ratatouille, one of my favorite movies and a dish that incorporates all kinds of vegetables that I love...and Jay hates. Well, it's summer and the components of ratatouille (zucchini, squash, tomatoes, eggplant) are in season and gorgeous. I also just stumbled on a blog post that presented the usually rustic chopped vegetable dish in a way that was just like in the Disney movie. Feeling inspired, I thought I would make my boys suffer through ratatouille for dinner and came up with my own variation. And, surprise! Jay actually really liked it (I would consider going back for thirds a success!). It's healthy, delicious and can take you on a mini-escape to the French countryside--even if all that gets to go are your taste buds...

Fancy Ratatouille (a la Remy)

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
garlic powder (about 1/2 teaspoon), divided
fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
1 teaspoon dried thyme (about 1 teaspoon), divided
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 small eggplant (Italian variety is nice since it's similar in size to the squash)
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced (optional)

In a shallow baking dish (I used an oval shape about 1o inches across), spread the canned tomatoes along bottom. Sprinkle diced onion on top. Drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle a fine layer of half of the garlic powder (about 1/4 teaspoon) and thyme (about 1/2 teaspoon) over tomatoes. Season generously with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Set aside.

On a mandolin (or using a food processor, the slicer function on a cheese grater or if all else fails, a sharp knife), slice the zucchini, yellow squash and eggplant as thinly as possible. Slice the bell pepper into very thin strips as well.

Over top of the tomato mixture, start to layer the vegetables, alternating and arranging in layers following the outline of the dish.

Continue to arrange vegetables concentrically (Silas said "like a snail train") until you have filled the dish. You may have some leftover veggies. Once you have filled the entire dish, sprinkle again with an even layer of garlic powder (about 1/4 teaspoon again) and the thyme (about 1/2 teaspoon). Sprinkle with more salt and pepper and drizzle with remaining olive oil.

Cover with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, but still have some structure. Or, if you're pinched for time (like me, I had assembled it earlier in the day, we went to playgroup and got home right before dinnertime), you can also cover with plastic wrap (use labeled microwave-safe wrap and avoid letting the wrap touch the food directly), microwave on high for 10 minutes remove plastic wrap and replace with foil and then finish for about 10 minutes in the oven.

Garnish with shredded Parmesan and basil leaves.

We served it over whole wheat cous cous (cook according to package directions using chicken broth instead of water and adding one tablespoon of butter) and with grilled chicken. I also put some crumbled feta cheese over some of it as an afterthought, and that was pretty fantastic, too!

1 comment:

  1. For people concerned about having to turn on the oven during the summer, here's a suggestion:
    just deconstruct it and do it over the stove top. Saute the veggies in the olive oil and then add in the tomatoes and seasonings and simmer until the veggies are tender. You can also cube the veggies (more traditional), but I liked the really thin slices both texturally and for the faster cooking time.