Rustic and refined ratatouille
This humble peasant dish is so rich and flavorful, it could almost pass for dessert.
(Page 2 of 2)
She arrived at her no-fuss, oven-roasted recipe after disappointment with stovetop ones that she found turned to a pot full of waterlogged mush. She admits that she rather likes the method of cooking each vegetable separately – except that it is "too time-consuming for everyday cooking." She insists that her recipe is not only easy but also "almost sweet with a wonderful, roasted flavor, the texture so rich and pleasing it almost felt like you were eating dessert."Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
If you just can't shake the image of the spectacular-looking ratatouille that adorable Remy (the animated rat who starred in "Ratatouille") served to the grumpy Parisian restaurant critic, you might want to attempt a simpler variation of it that was developed by food blogger Deb Perelman. The founder of "Smitten Kitchen" was indeed so smitten by the beauty of the dish that after seeing the movie, she donned her apron and set to work duplicating Mr. Keller's creation. She published the results along with some gorgeous photographs on her site. Either variation, like most stews, only improves with age. Or as Ms. Dusoulier says: "It gets even better the next day and the day after that, so it's an ideal make-ahead dish."
So for all of its simplicity and seasonality, ratatouille couldn't be more ready for its close-up.
2 cloves garlic
1 eggplant (the traditional ratatouille from Nice does not use eggplant)
2 green peppers
8 small tomatoes
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel and slice the onion and garlic. Rinse the remaining vegetables, trim, and slice them. Rinse the herbs.
Combine everything in an oven-proof dish. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to ensure even coating.
Cover the dish with foil and bake for 45 minutes. At this point, the vegetables should be cooked, and there should be cooking juices at the bottom of the pan.
Remove the foil and bake for another 30 to 45 minutes, keeping an eye on the progress, until the cooking juices have evaporated and the vegetables have taken on a nice roasted aspect.
Remove the sprigs of herb, and serve immediately, or at room temperature, or cold. It gets even better the next day and the day after that. Serves 4.
– From Clotilde Dusoulier of chocolateandzucchini.com
(Inspired by the animated movie)
1 cup tomato purée
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 small eggplant
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 long red bell pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Goat cheese, for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large baking dish, pour tomato purée and spread until it is evenly distributed. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the purée, stir in 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.
Trim ends off eggplant, zucchini, and yellow squash. Also trim ends off red pepper and remove its core, leaving the edges intact.
With a mandoline or very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, and red pepper into very thin slices, about 1/16 of an inch thick.
Arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge of the baking dish to the inside, overlapping so that only a small part of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables.
Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingers, running them down over the stem. Sprinkle fresh thyme over the dish.
Cover the dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. (This is tricky, Deb admits, adding that it is the most difficult step of an otherwise fairly simple recipe.)
Bake for about 50 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked but not limp. They should not be brown around the edges, and the tomato sauce should be bubbling around them.
Serve with a dab of goat cheese on top and with crusty french bread – or atop polenta, couscous, or another grain of your choice.
– From Deb Perelman of smittenkitchen.com.