Ratatouille, Remy Style 15Feb09
An ode to Ratatouille, the movie, and to delicious hearty rain weather food. Our fabulous sunshine has gone into hiding again and for the past week it’s been nothing but gloom and rain. It’s supposed to be Summer!
Valentine’s day was fabulous, we went to a semi-fancy dinner at Deep Blue Bistro and had one of the best meals I’ve had in Sydney.
So ratatouille. It’s traditionally a French vegetable stew but since Pixar’s Ratatouille people are a little confused since it looks like a nice stack of veggies in the movie. Well, I’ve made a combination of what the traditional dish should be with the sliced vegetable stack like how Remy did in the movie.
It came out great and I’m so happy I opted for cous cous intead of pasta. The dish is pretty hearty as it is. Oh! And you can make this dish vegan but not adding any cheese at the end.
1 can of peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons of tomato paste
2 roma tomatoes – thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 medium size eggplant – thinly sliced
1 medium size zucchini – thinly sliced
3 shallots – finely chopped
1 yellow onion – finely chopped
1 whole head of garlic
2-3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped
3 sprigs of marjoram
3 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary – leaves finely chopped
handful of basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
fresh ground pepper
garnish with Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)
preheat oven to 425°F or 220°C
Step 1: The Prep!
First things first, take that whole garlic head and wrap it in a big piece of foil BUT leave a bit of air in there and pinch the top to seal it. Throw that in the oven for about 35 – 40 minutes. Now onto the bell peppers. Cut each one into big wedges (quarters are a good size), take out the seeds and stem. In a baking pan drizzle in a nice layer of extra virgin olive oil and then place the bell peppers in there, sprinkle some sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Roll em around a bit and throw in the oven for about 20 minutes or until nicely cooked through.
Step 2: The Sauce!
While some of the veggies are roasting, we’ll start the sauce. In a large saucepan on medium heat drizzle in some extra virgin olive oil (about 2 tablespoons). Once the oil is heated, toss in the finely chopped shallots and let that sweat. While it’s cooking, throw in your herbs… that would be the rosemary, the marjoram leaves, the thyme leaves and some basil leaves chopped up. Don’t forget the salt and pepper! Now throw in the onions, drizzle a little bit more olive oil and stir. While the onions and shallots are sweating, in a large bowl empty the can of peeled tomatoes. With your hands, squish each of the tomatoes and make sure you get them into small pieces.
As soon as the onions and shallots are translucent, pour in the tomatoes from the can that you’ve just smushed with your hands. Lower the heat to a medium-low and slowly stir in the tomato paste. Stir in another little drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and let that simmer. Add a pinch of salt and pepper if you like.
By now, your garlic and bell peppers should be ready. Carefully take those out but make sure to keep the oven on. Carefully squeeze out the garlic gloves out and roughly run a knife through it. Add the garlic to the tomato sauce simmering away. Use a spatula to smush it against the side of the pan a little to get the flavors mixing through. Turn the heat down to low and now we’ll chop the bell peppers. Be careful since they might be hot still! Let them cool more if they are. Dice the bell peppers but make sure you cut through the skin as well. Throw all those diced bell peppers into the tomato sauce. It should be a pretty thick and chunky almost chutney consistency now. We’re ready to assemble.
Step 3: The Bake!
In a baking dish, pour in the tomato sauce evenly along the whole dish. You can sprinkle some Parmigiano-Reggiano here if you like. Now to layer the veggies. I went eggplant – tomato – zucchini – tomato – zucchini. But really, you can kind of do whatever you want. Just layer them all on top of the sauce but make sure you don’t double up, you’re going to want to roast the veggies in the end. Once you’ve got a good layer, drizzle a just little bit more olive oil over the top. Drizzle a little balsamic vinegar over the vegetables. Top off with the finely chopped garlic (about 2 cloves) and a little bit of thinly sliced basil.
Cover the dish with parchment paper, then foil and in the oven it goes for 30 minutes. At this time, cook the cous cous according to the package! It’s usually 1 cup of water for 1 cup of dry cous cous. After 30 minutes, remove the foil and parchment paper, and let it bake on the top rack for another 10-15 minutes to roast the vegetables on the top.
Plate with some cous cous, layers of veggies and chunky sauce. Grate some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top, add some fresh ground pepper, or a little pinch of thinly sliced basil.