Ratatouille is my all-time favorite Pixar movie. I think someone’s favorite Pixar movie says a lot about them. I won’t go into my stereotypes now, but let’s just say if you said A Bug’s Life, I would exit the conversation immediately. The combination of Paris and food certainly resonate but my true love stems from the heart and message within the story. As Anton Ego, the humbled food critic, remarks at the end of the film, “Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.”

I’m truly shocked it’s taken me seven years to recreate the climatic final meal from which the title stems. When my CSA delivered zucchini, squash, and eggplant, the vibrant color combination brought to mind one image: concentric, thinly sliced summer vegetables.

I’ve since made this twice and while I may not have grown up eating ratatouille, the dish has an inherent comfort from its simplicity. I feel like a broken record, but if I had a cooking catch phrase, it would be “Just roast it!”

Ratatouille a la Ratatouille

1/2 small onion or shallot, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 can tomato sauce (without salt)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Salt and pepper
Few tablespoons soft goat cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour tomato sauce into bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Add minced 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. On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.

Atop the tomato sauce, 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 a handful leftover that do not fit.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper.

Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside.

Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.

Serve with soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread or your choice of grain.

Serves 2 as main course, 4 as a side dish

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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