Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ratatouille: Simple, Elegant and Satisfying



My youngest daughter has been pestering me to make Ratatouille ever since the Disney movie opened in theaters.  There is only one minor issue that has kept me from making the dish for almost two years...my family doesn't like vegetables.  There I said it! I don't want to place blame here but the source of the distaste for vegetables comes for one particular person...my darling husband! Corn, beans a potatoes are the breathed of his vegetable pleasures, thus resulting in familial taste choices in his offspring.  I, on the other hand, delight in all manner of vegetables and cannot fathom the loss of palatable pleasures my family has missed over the years! 

Finally, after two years of badgering from our youngest child, I decided to make Ratatouille for the first time!  With my husband off in China on business, this was the perfect time to experiment with a dish that consists of only vegetables.  It just so happened, that my father was over for the afternoon and knowing him to be a vegetable connoisseur like myself, I ventured into a proverbial vegetable paradise! 




Using the traditional French recipe, I tried keeping to the same fresh flavor ingredients but made a minor adjustment with the addition of button mushrooms. 

Recipe:

1 large eggplant sliced 1/2 inch thick rounds, skin on
3 small zucchini
2 medium yellow summer squash
2 large yellow or orange bell peppers
2 large clove garlic
2 medium sweet onions sliced 1/2 inch thick rounds
5 vine ripe tomatoes, skinned
1 14 ounce can chopped tomatoes with juices
1 pound button mushrooms
olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Wash and slice vegetables. Peel tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for 10-15 seconds, remove skin and crush tomatoes with spoon or by hand into a medium skillet, set on low heat, add thyme, bay leaf, garlic and salt and pepper and simmer until ready to use




In a large heavy bottom skillet, add two table spoons olive oil, cook eggplant for 5 minutes, turning occasionally, add olive oil if pan becomes dry, drain cooked eggplant on paper towel, add salt and pepper and set aside

Next repeat the same process with zucchini and yellow squash, remove from heat add salt and pepper and drain on paper towel.

The order in which the vegetables are cooked is very important when making this dish.  Using this process allows for each vegetable to retain it's flavor without being compromised by the other vegetables, resulting in a perfectly balanced dish. Also, adding salt and pepper to each vegetable after removing the from the skillet, will keep the natural juices from escaping and prevent the vegetables from being "boiled" and becoming mushy.




Add two tablespoon vegetable oil to the skillet and cook the peppers for 5 minutes, remove to paper towel and season with salt and pepper.


Add two tablespoons olive oil to skillet and cook onions for 5 minutes, remove to paper towel and salt and pepper to taste.



Add two tablespoons olive oil to skillet and cook mushrooms for 3-5 minutes, remove to paper towel and salt and pepper to taste.


Assemble:

In a large oiled casserole dish begin layering the vegetables in the same order as they were prepared, eggplant, zucchini and squash, peppers, onions and then mushrooms









Pour tomato sauce over layered vegetables and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. More salt and pepper can be added by your guests, but I found it wasn't necessary as the flavors were a delicate and delightfully seasoned.





 


Don't forget the wine...I served a spicy and beautifully structured zinfandel blend.   Ridge 2005 California Sonoma County Three Valleys, Zinfandel.   A perfect combination of grapes from multiple vineyards this was a wonderful pairing for my ratatouille. Priced around $26-$30 dollars per bottle and worth every penny!

I also serve garlic crostini to sop up all the juices. 





Not having any previous experience with eating Ratatouille I was blown away by the complex flavors of this dish!  Each individual vegetable retaining its own distinct flavor but perfectly combined to create a mouth watering, soul satisfying meal.  My family, minus the vegetably challenged man of the house, loved it!!






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6 comments:

  1. OOOOOHHHH that looks yummy. I think I would have broken down and eaten all the Zucchini though, those are my very favorite. The presentation looked amazing and so delicious, I had never even heard of this dish. Thanks for the treat!

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  2. Looks so delicious! Hahaha! This sounds familiar, my daughter asked me exactly that, when we went for the movie! And am ashamed to say I have yet to make any for her. Rebecka, I'm being reminded again by this yummy looking Ratatouille of yours! Have a lovely week!

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  3. looks amazing!

    Thank you for stopping by my blog - I'm your newest follower too!

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  4. Smash Bravo, Thanks for visiting. If you like zucchini I know you'll enjoy this dish! This was my first stab at this recipe and it was a great success

    Hi Joy, it took me two years to get around to making ratatouille and I probably wouldn't have made it at all if it weren't for my daughters constant pleading. I know I'll make it again when my husband is out of town (he has vegetable-phobia) it was so satisfying and delicious!

    funkylindsay, happy to see you, thanks for linking up via TGIF and following

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  5. I like how you layered all those wonderful vegetables. Zinfandel is one of my favorite wines and I can imagine how well it must go with the ratatouille.

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  6. I must say you are a wonderful cook at the same time a perfect photographer.....your pics are so colorful...I loved the recipe a lot :)

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♥I really appreciate your comments♥

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