I must admit, I, like many others, did not know what ratatouille was until the Disney/Pixar movie, Ratatouille, came out in 2007, but how could anyone not want to taste the dish that changes the heart and mind of a cold critic and sends him straight back to his childhood? It had to be amazing, right?
My friends and I started making this in college when Ratatouille was the movie of choice for a lazy movie night. It was perfect because it tied in with the movie, my friend is vegetarian, and it was something fun we could all make together. I don’t remember what online recipe we tried, but the meal was just okay. So every subsequent time I have made it I have continued to experiment. I have read more about traditional ratatouille (like the one you see in the flash back) and let me say our first attempt and other Ratatouille’s ratatouille recipes are nothing like the traditional and are missing some iconically French items. So in my last attempt I tried to just think French and this is the best I have ever tasted ratatouille to be. So much so, I almost had my own flashback.
- 1 medium zucchini squash
- 1 medium yellow squash
- 1 medium eggplant (Japanese variety preferred)
- 2 small bell peppers
- 3 medium tomatoes
- 1/2 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 tsp thyme, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp herbs de provence (so French!)
- 2 tsp salt
- parmesan cheese
Because this recipe requires arranging the veggies in this decorative way, it is best to try to shop for veggies that are all around the same size in diameter. That is why all measurements are in size rather than amount. You are trying to get equal parts of each veggie in similar sizes.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
First, thinly slice squash, eggplant, tomatoes, and bell pepper. I used a mandolin slicer because they are fast and consistent, just use extreme caution with the blade.
To make sauce, combine tomato sauce, garlic, onions, basil, thyme, 1/2 tbsp of herbs de provence, and 1 tsp of salt. Cover the bottom of glass, porcelain, or other oven-safe dish. My dish is a 10 inch long oval. You want the dish to be small so it will give structure to your veggie arrangement. Cover the sauce with your fresh parsley.
Start adding your vegetables by creating a stacked pattern. I stack two repetitions of the pattern and then place in into the dish. The sauce should help keep the veggies upright. Continue until the whole dish is full. Drizzle olive oil over the vegetables and cover with parchment paper (just like in the movie!) Bake for 45 minutes.
Once you remove your ratatouille from the oven, sprinkle with the remaining salt and herbs de provence. Grate fresh parmesan cheese over the hot dish and serve with buttered, crusty french bread. You are warned, you might be transported to your own imaginary (or real) rustic French childhood.