If you are anything like me, the first time you heard of ratatouille it was because of Disney Pixar's movie,Ratatouille. And I didn't even know it was a dish back then! I thought it was just the name of the rat. But ever since then I've had a desire to cook the dish. What held me back were the ingredients - I am not a fan of squash, zucchini OR eggplant. It wasn't until this summer, when my neighbors gave me a big box of freshly picked zucchini and squash that I decided to give it a go.
Turns out it is DELICIOUS!!! Makes the saying "Don't knock it until you try it" really ring true.
While the main ingredients stay the same, the preparation can vary greatly across chefs and recipes. Although it takes a bit of patience, love and time, I create a swirl pattern with my veggies. Not only does this create a beautiful display, but it also helps the veggies cook evenly. A tip to doing this well is to buy veggies that are approximately the same size, then cut them with a mandolin so they all end up being the same width. Eggplants can be tricky though as they typically are behemoths. I look for baby eggplants and tend to cut them in half when arranging. Once all your veggies are cut, simply stay to your pattern of order (ie tomato, eggplant, squash, zucchini, tomato, eggplant, squash, zucchini, etc. etc.).
I always serve my ratatouille simply, with nothing more than hunks of fresh, crusty bread. If you are looking to make this a heartier dish, I suggest serving alongside grilled prawns or lamb. You can also top with a slow cooked egg and some feta cheese if you are looking to keep it vegetarian. Enjoy!
Summer Wine Ratatouille
- TOP LAYER
- 5 Roma Tomatoes
- 2 Medium Zucchini
- 2 Medium Squash
- 2 Baby Eggplants
- 2 Tbs Olive Oil
- 1 Onion, diced
- 2 Bell Peppers (any color), diced
- 5 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Chili Pepper, minced
- 1/4 C. Light Red Wine (Pinot Noir is my favourite)
- 1 28oz Can Crushed Tomatoes
- 10 Basil Leaves, sliced
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 1/4 C. Olive Oil
- 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
- 10 Basil Leaves, sliced
- 1 Tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- Salt & Pepper
- Step 1 PREP TOP LAYER: Slice tomatoes, zucchini, squash and eggplant all into equal, 1/8 inch rounds. This can be done easily using a mandolin
- Step 2 MAKE YOUR BASE: Heat oil in a 12" cast iron skillet on medium high heat. Add onion, peppers, chili and garlic and saute until the onion becomes slightly translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Step 3 Add red wine and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, or until all the wine has been soaked up by the veggies.
- Step 4 Pour in the can of crushed tomatoes and stir until combined. Let simmer for 5 minutes.
- Step 5 Take the sauce off the stove, then stir in the basil, salt and pepper.
- Step 6 ASSEMBLE: Preheat oven to 375 F
- Step 7 Take one slice of eggplant, squash, tomato and zucchini and place vertically next to each other on top of the sauce, starting at the outer ridge of the plan. Following the same pattern, continue to place your veggies on the sauce, working from the outer edges toward the center.
- Step 8 Once all the veggies have been arranged, cover your pan with aluminum foil and place in your preheated oven for 40 minutes.
- Step 9 Once the ratatouille has cooked for 40 minutes, remove the foil and put back into the oven for half hour.
- Step 10 PREP YOUR DRIZZLE: Combine olive oil, garlic, basil, thyme salt and pepper and set aside
- Step 11 Take the uncovered ratatouille out of the oven and drizzle with the olive oil and herb mix. Put back in the oven for an additional 15 minutes, or until the vegetables on top are soft.
- Step 12 Serve while hot with fresh, crusty bread.