Thursday, August 5, 2010

Ratatouille Fantastique!

Ratatouille is a French vegetable dish originally from Nice in  Provence, France. It's pronounced rat-at-toouey and also is the name of a popular 2007 Pixar film about a rat named Remy who wants to become a famous French chef in the sewers of Paris ...... but rest assured, there's nothing foul about this dish! This link is a recipe developed for the movie by chef Thomas Keller.

This is the perfect time of the year to make ratatouille with loads of available fresh vegetables in the supermarkets or a green markets (if you're lucky enough to have one nearby). Ratatouille is perfect as a side dish for meat, fish or chicken but can also be a main course with brick oven baked bread and salad and it's also sometimes used as a filling for omelettes.

I first had ratatouille at Sunday Brunch at a restaurant on 43rd Street on Manhattan's West Side called 'Le Madeleine'. They served it as a side dish with almost every entree and it was truly fantastic. Sadly, the restaurant is closed but it was a charming, authentic French bistro with beautiful drawings of Madeline (from the book of the same name) in the rest rooms and an interior garden room that was bright and sunny.

For the novice chef, ratatouille is very easy to make, the vegetables make it sweet, the oven baking make it a healthy choice and the colorful mixture makes any plate look fantastic! I made this this afternoon and the prep time took about 1/2 hour. Oven cooking was about 1 hour and the rest took just a few minutes to toss together in a deep frying pan. 

Give it a try.  It's also prefect with barbecued food. Serve with cabernet sauvignon.


Dice into 1 inch pieces and roast in oven
  • 1 large eggplant
  • 4 zucchini
  • 1 large white onion

Roast in oven and remove skin:
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 yellow pepper

  • 10 large tomatoes, sliced into small chunks

  • 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  • 2 tablespoons chopped basil
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  • In flat pan with 1"sides, remove tops of peppers and lay opened and flat with outer edges up and roast for about 1 hour
  • In a similar pan, place diced eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes and bake in 400 degree oven for an hour
  • In frying pan with 1/4c olive oil, saute chopped onions, garlic, thyme, parsley and basil until onions are translucent
  • When oven baked vegetables are done, place them immediately in an ice bath to retain bright color.
  • Using olive oil, remove skins from peppers by gently massaging the peppers until skin slides off.
  • Add to frying pan to mix. Add remaining olive oil.
  • Cook slowly with lid for about 1/2 hour until all vegetables are softened. 
  • Grate wide pieces of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese over ratatouille before serving.

Tomorrow: Vocabulary, Part 2

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