Ratatouille

Ratatouille is one of my favorite animated films of all time. It was aired in 2007 when I was starting to learn more about cooking in my home kitchen. Remy was a rat, who dreams of becoming a chef and he formed a friendship with Linguini, who was a garbage boy at a Parisian restaurant called Gusteau’s.

Ratatouille (2007)

Repeatedly, the head chef kept undermining Linguini’s (and consequently Remy’s) dishes, because Linguini was a plain garbage boy to him. But every time the dish gets approval from the diners, I felt my heart swell for Remy and Linguini because I could relate, because I didn’t have a culinary background. So from that movie, I kept on cooking and trying out new dishes and learning different flavors up until the present where through different classes, experiences in the kitchen. I still dream to have my own restaurant or food business someday. I still hope to get off the corporate world and jump to the food industry someday.

Remy plates up the main dish for Anton Ego, the harshest critic in the movie.

There are different versions of this dish, usually in a stew, but in honor of the film, I decided to try to recreate how it was laid out in a baking dish. I didn’t have time to serve it the way it was served to Anton Ego, but perhaps I should try to do so another time.

I had a funny moment where I thought my baking dish fit the small temporary oven that we had at home, but I have laid the vegetables out already. The thing was, our regular gas oven was broken, and it’s a big one where it can fit two or three big trays at a time. The baking dish looked like it would fit the oven, but I realized that the glass handles on the sides were quite huge so the door of the oven was slightly ajar. I do not recommend doing it, but I tried to cover the open door with aluminum foil to keep the heat it. While it worked, it took 10 minutes more than the recommended cooking time.

Woops! Not used to this baby oven’s size =/

Just a couple of pointers: In picking the vegetables for this dish, aim to have vegetables of similar diameters if possible. About 5 to 10 cm in diameter would be ideal. But if this isn’t possible (for example, Asian eggplants are generally thinner, or yellow squash isn’t available but a bigger squash or potato is), slice thinner vegetables diagonally to make them look bigger, and slice bigger vegetables according to the average diameter of the rest of the vegetables.

Ratatouille

Serves 4

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 5 medium tomatoes, sliced (about ¼ of an inch each slice)
  • 2 medium-sized potatoes, sliced (about ¼ of an inch each slice), or 1 cup of sliced yellow squash. (our squash was scheduled for a different dish the next day so I decided to use potatoes)
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini, sliced (about ¼ of an inch each slice)
  • 1-2 eggplants, sliced (about ¼ of an inch each slice)
  • 28 oz canned tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers (red and yellow)
  • ¼ teaspoon of fresh thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon oregano (dried or fresh, sliced in a chiffonade)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tablespoons of basil sliced in a chiffonade
  • 1/4 cup of almond milk (or any milk, but I prefer almond milk)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Roast the bell peppers in an open fire (or grill them) until the skin is charred.
  2. Once the skin is charred, wash and peel the skin off and slice up the bell peppers, making sure to discard all the seeds.
  3. In a saucepan, heat some olive oil and saute the onions and garlic.
  4. Once the onions slightly translucent, add the oregano, and fresh thyme and let the herbs sweat a little.
  5. Add the sliced up bell peppers and canned tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper
  6. Let it simmer for about 15 minutes.
  7. Transfer this cooked mixture into a blender or food processor, and add the almond milktast. Pulse until almost smooth but not watery.
  8. Place an inch thick layer of the sauce at the bottom of a round pan (I used a 9.5 x 24 baking dish) or baking dish. You can also use square pans, but the layering of the vegetables will be different.
  9. Layer the sliced vegetables into an alternating pattern: tomato, potato/squash, zucchini, eggplant, until the pan is filled, and season with salt and pepper
  10. Top a very thin layer of sauce on the vegetables. You can also put basil leaves or pesto if you want.
  11. Preheat the oven to about 210 degrees Celsius.
  12. Bake for about 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.

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