I’ve never seen the “Ratatouille” movie. I hear it’s a cute kid’s movie. I have made the ratatouille triumphed in the movie and it’s quite good. Also it’s another great way to use the zucchini, summer squash and eggplant overflowing at your farmers’ market right now. Because as I’ve mentioned, these vegetables are not the easiest items to turn into a delicious meal without turning them to mush.
I first tried this dish last summer when we were going through a drought and zucchini, eggplant and summer squash seemed to be the only offering in our farmers’ market box. It looked like a promising way to use all three of these veggies that was different than roasting them, then tossing them in pasta or on a pizza. At the time I was ready for any recipe that let me use as many of these vegetables as possible in one dish.
To my surprise and gratitude the dish actually tastes good, too. The tomato sauce infuses the slices of vegetables, steaming them without turning them to mush. I recommend serving the ratatouille over orzo with a dollop or sprinkle of goat cheese. The goat cheese adds a creamy tang to the vegetables, and the orzo soaks up all the juices.
Ratatouilleadapted from Smitten Kitchen 1/2 onion, chopped 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 cup tomato puree (or crushed tomatoes) 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 Japanese eggplant (or one small and narrow eggplant)** 1 zucchini ** 1 yellow summer squash** 1 long/small bell pepper 1 teaspoon dried thyme salt and pepper goat cheese to garnish 1/2 lb orzo
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a baking dish (about 10 inches long), pour the tomato puree. Next add the onion, garlic and olive oil and stir to combine. Distribute the sauce evenly along the bottom of the baking dish.
Now if you have a mandoline is the time to get it out. If you don’t have one, like me, get out your chef’s knife and carefully slice the eggplant, zucchini, summer squash and bell pepper into very thin, 1/16 inch pieces (i.e. almost paper thin). Don’t worry if your slices aren’t perfect, just get them as thin as you can.
Arrange the vegetable in an alternating layer snaking through the baking dish. Sprinkle with the thyme, salt and pepper. Any leftover slices you can store in the refrigerator for another dish, such as grilled vegetables with couscous and chickpea salad.
Take the baking dish and set it on top of a piece of parchment paper or wax paper and outline it with a marker or pen. Cut out the shape and place it on top of the vegetables. (Tracing the baking dish to ensure the correct size). Place the baking dish into a 375 degree oven for 45-55 minutes, until the vegetable are cooked, but still retain their shape. The tomato sauce should be bubbling along the sides.
About 10 minutes before the ratatouille is ready, cook the orzo according to package directions. Remove the ratatouille from the oven and serve on top of a scoop of orzo and with a dollop of goat cheese.
** I use multiple eggplant, zucchini and summer squash because mine were very small.