How often can you say a Disney movie inspired you to cook up something that is not only eye catching, but tasty too. Better yet, a movie where a rat was dying to become a great French chef. I must confess, I’ve seen this movie more than 10 times both with and without the intended viewers around. Although comical, the message behind the movie was clear, nothing should stand in the way of your greatness!
In 2007, Pixar released the movie Ratatouille. It was a story of an unlikely pair; a rat named Remy and a kitchen help Linguini that hilariously teamed up to prepare some of famed chef Auguste Gusteau greatest dishes. One notably, was Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a French stew made up primarily of tomatoes, eggplant and zucchini with a few other ingredient.
In the movie, Ratatouille is prepared in a slightly different way from the traditional using the same ingredients. It involves cutting and baking thinly slice zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and yellow squash, over a tomato and bell pepper sauce. The layers of brightly colored vegetables just jumped out at me. There was no reason to search for a recipe. After all, it was all visibly on the big screen.
I figured we could do with a meatless meal this week. Though I am not quite sure everyone would be in agreement. Nevertheless there is nothing wrong with a healthy serving of vegetables every now and then. Did I mention that this is a perfect dish for vegetarians? Well it is! No Meat! No Dairy! My non-eating meat friends will love this dish. To make it a more hearty meal, you can add sliced potatoes, sweet or regular. Your choice.
One suggestion I have is to use a veggie slicer if you have one. I did all the work by hand. Its therapy for me. But for a quicker and more uniformed slices, a slicer would do wonders.
” I cant help myself, I like good food okay.” ~ Remy
I decided to use my go to tomato sauce adding in marjoram which was recommended by my favorite vendor at the fresh market in city. He knows his stuff. I thought that oregano would have given the sauce that additional pop on its own but marjoram took the depth to another level.
Some people prepare with an additional layer of béchamel sauce, but for the purpose of this recipe, I stayed close to my inspiration. Depending on how big your pan is, you may want to add more or less vegetables.
Here we go:-
For the Ratatouille
- 1 orange, red or yellow pepper, seeded and sliced in halves
- 2 or 3 roma tomatoes sliced
- 1 eggplant sliced
- 1 zucchini sliced
- 1 yellow squash sliced
- 1 medium red onion (optional)
- Salt and Pepper
- 1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil to brush vegetables
- 3 sprigs thyme finely chopped
For the sauce
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup finely chopped sweet onion
- 1 ½ can diced tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 4 finely chopped fresh basil
- 3 fresh sprigs thyme chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°F
- Wash and slice vegetable. Set aside
- In a sauce pan heat oil on medium high heat, add onions and garlic. Allow to sweat on medium heat for 3 minutes then add vinegar. After 1 minute pour in tomatoes.
- Cook for 5 minutes, then add basil, thyme salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook additional 5 minutes then pour into baking dish and spread evenly on the bottom. (if you are also using béchamel sauce, you would add it atop of the tomato sauce.
- Begin to assemble layers by alternating vegetables and over laying then in which ever design you desire.
- In a small bowl, add oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Mix together. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush top of vegetable.
- Bake on middle rack for 1 ½ hour until vegetables are tender covered. Remove cover, drop temperature to 375°F and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minute or until a little color appears (optional)