I love ratatouille.
After seeing the movie, I was kind of let down – I mean, ratatouille is basically baked eggplant, squash, zucchini and tomatoes. I was expecting something complex and really fancy! It’s probably better that it’s so simple though, or else I probably wouldn’t have tried to make it.
This wasn’t my first encounter with making ratatouille, now that I think about it. This past summer I made a ratatouille tart using a recipe in some Ellie Krieger cookbook from the library. Unfortunately, I had to make my own pie crust out of cornmeal and it was basically a disaster. It tasted alright, but the pie crust was really soggy and it just kind of fell apart after it finished baking.
Thankfully, my dad will eat anything I make, even if it looks like an organic garden puked in a tupperware container.
Anyways, this go round went much better. One of the biggest problems I have when cooking is patience – I get so impatient waiting for food to finish cooking that I don’t let the flavors marinate and combine. For the ratatouille, I had to make a piperade, similar to the one I made for my sad attempt at Eggs in Piperade. Other than waiting for everything to cook, there’s nothing very taxing at all about making this dish. Sure, you have to chop/slice vegetables out the whazoo, but I’m weird and find chopping vegetables very therapeutic.
Sometimes I don’t know who/what I’m turning into – I continue to baffle my mom and my Aunt Lynne with my insane obsession with cooking/food.
Anyways, here’s the recipe:
Taken from Tasty Kitchen, serves 5-6
– 1 onion, diced
– 1 tbsp garlic
– 1 can diced tomatoes
– 1 dash cumin
– 1 bay leaf (I didn’t have a bay leaf…)
– 2 roasted red peppers (I don’t really like jarred roasted red peppers – they taste too briny and I’m too lazy to make them myself, so I just used one regular red bell pepper)
– Salt and pepper, to taste
– 1 zucchini
– 1 summer squash
– 1 Japanese eggplant
– 3 tomatoes
– Olive oil
– and I sprinkled Romano cheese over the ratatouille towards the end – DO IT.
All you do is saute the onions, garlic and red pepper (with salt, pepper and…..Italian Dressing Mix) until they’re soft, about 15 minutes. Then add the cumin, bay leaf (if you have it) and the diced tomatoes and let it simmer until all of the flavors marry (I actually let it simmer for about 15-20 minutes).
While the piperade is simmering, slice your vegetables. Once the piperade is done, pour it into a smallish casserole dish, then arrange the vegetables in some sort of attractive arrangement. Ideally, you want all of your vegetable slices to be about the same size. Mine were not – the zucchini and squash were abnormally small, so I doubled up on those slices. Here’s what it looked like before I put it in the oven:
Also, drizzle some olive oil over the top, along with the thyme. Then pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour and a half, until the vegetables start to caramelize and curl.
My favorite part of the ratatouille was how rustic it looked – the vegetables baked beautifully and the different colors were gorgeous. It tasted really good as well, but honestly, it wasn’t anything too special. I don’t know if I missed something or maybe used a boring recipe, but I could have easily sauteed onions, zucchini and squash with diced tomatoes in a skillet and let it simmer for twenty minutes with the same results, taste wise. I definitely think I’ll make this again though, just because I love the rustic feel to it. This would definitely be good on top of crusty bread – deeeeelicious.