Friday, February 3, 2012

Ratatouille’s Ratatouille

I happened to catch Disney's Ratatouille while I was trying to recover from my evil cold last week. Every time I watch that movie I am inspired to get my butt in the kitchen and cook something delicious. In the summer I like to make a Grilled Ratatouille Salad but this time I really wanted the layer of tomato sauce and bright circle of veggies that Remy makes in the movie. I found this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and I was very happy to discover I am not the only person inspired by a cartoon rat. 

Ratatouille's Ratatouille
recipe courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

½ onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow squash
1 red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, approximately 10 inches across the long way. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.

Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.

Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately ¼ inch thick.

Arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have some leftover slices that that do not fit.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs and sprinkle the leaves over the vegetables. Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside.

Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp or brown at the edges. The tomato sauce will bubble up around the vegetables.

Serve on top of Polenta with Fresh Corn or a grain of your choice.