Knowing that Food Network’s Summer Fest’s featured ingredient of the week was eggplant, I quickly recalled one of my favorite Ratatouille recipes from the innovative food blog Smitten Kitchen. When I was preparing a vegetarian meal for friends, this recipe quickly caught my fancy. It is based on the seasonal dish prepared in the animated movie “Ratatouille”. After seeing this movie with my children, I quickly ran to the market to buy ingredients to prepare this yummy recipe. The animated version of Ratatouille was beautiful. The vegetables were cut in neat, colorful circles and simply stacked on a plate with fresh herbs. It was much more appealing than the stew version I prepared and ate in my youth.
Smitten Kitchen’s creator Deb had the same reaction and developed this straightforward recipe just like the Ratatouille in the movie. As Deb tells in her blog post, the movie’s version is based upon the recipe for Thomas Keller’s (The French Laundry) Confit Byaldi, the accordian-fanned version of ratatouille. The recipe, available on the New York Times website, sounds wonderful but is a bit more complicated than Deb’s (Confit Byaldi - NY Times).
Instead of the traditional herbs de provence or fresh thyme that Deb uses, I just grabbed some fresh basil leaves from my backyard and sprinkled it over top after it baked. The addition of goat cheese and a crusty French roll create a complete summer meal.
Layered Ratatouille a la “Ratatouille”
½ onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree, preferably Pomi
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 Japanese eggplant
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow squash
1 longish red pepper
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees
2. Pour tomato puree into bottom of a 10 inch baking dish. Drop in sliced garlic cloves, chopped onion, salt, pepper and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Stir.
3. Trim ends of eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. Trim ends of red pepper and carefully remove core with seeds, creating a tube.
4. With a mandoline or knife cut eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices – about 1/16 of an inch.
5. Arrange slices of vegetables cocentrically from the outer edge of the baking dish over tomato puree. Alternate vegetables and over so you can still see each one. Save any left over vegetables.
6. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper (preferably sea salt).
7. Cover dish with parchment paper cut to fit the inside of dish.
8. Bake for 45 – 50 minutes until tomato sauce is bubbling up around the vegetables. The veggies should not brown at all.
9. Sprinkle basil overtop and serve with crumbled goat cheese.