Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ratatouille


I'm sure you've all seen the Disney/Pixar Animation, Ratatouille, featuring the master chef and rat, Remy and the clueless restaurant heir, Alfredo Linguini. At the end of the movie, Remy prepares a classic French dish and wins over a notoriously harsh food critic's heart. What Remy the rat served?The Provençal French stewed vegetable dish, ratatouille. I never was too intrigued in trying this dish until I traveled abroad in Haute-Savoie, the French Alps. 

My host family in Veyrier du Lac cooked dinner every night, and about a half of the produce we ate came from fresh their own garden. One summer night, I finally tried a homemade ratatouille. I remember it being a tomato and olive oil based stew with lots of squashes and eggplant. I had it over rice, and it was perfect. It easily became my favorite dish; it was good fresh and even better the next day for lunch. 

When I came home to New York, I attempted making ratatouille several times. It was never the same, but this recipe comes pretty close. My host family didn't prepare their ratatouille in layers, and cut their vegetables in more cube-like forms, but I found this method to be carry out the flavor better.







Ratatouille
3-4 small tomatoes
1 large onion
1 eggplant
1 squash
1 zucchini 
4 tablespoons olive oil
Herbes de Provence (or Thyme, Sage, Oregano, Basil) 
Salt

1. First, cut all the vegetables into thin slices.
2. Heat up the skillet and sautee the onions with two tablespoons of olive oil. Then layer all the tomatoes on top, turn the heat to medium/low and cover the pan so that the tomatoes cook. Sprinkle on about of 2 teaspoons of salt. Eventually the tomatoes will be more of a sauce than distinct tomato slices.
3. After about 10 minutes, layer on the squash and zucchini and cook with the cover on for another 5-7 minutes before layering on the eggplant.

4. Sprinkle about a tablespoon of the herbs onto the eggplants along with the two tablespoons of olive oil, and let it simmer with the lid on for another 20 minutes, so all the vegetables become softer, like a stew. Afterwards, remove the cover and let it reduce for 5-7minutes. Then sprinkle fresh basil on top. 
5. Finally, mix gently to maintain the layers in the dish.

This is a great, healthy, and flavorful dish to go with any meal. Perfect for the remaining produce from the end of summer/beginning of Fall !


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