Ratatouille has been on my ‘list of things to cook’ for a very long time. I have to admit that my first exposure to the word, and dish for that matter, was the Pixar film named after it.
This recipe is actually a modern twist on the classic, rustic and more humble, original version. Ratatouille simply refers to a mixture of vegetables that are sautéed together in a tomato sauce with some herbs and garlic, before being roasted in the oven. Either preparation is delicious but if you want to give yourself a little weekend project or impress dinner guests, this modern twist is the one for you! I made this over the Jewish New Year for my entire family, in-laws included) and am not exaggerating when I tell you that my father-in-law whipped out his phone and started taking pictures of it. My brother quickly followed suit! Next thing you know everyone is taking pictures of the Ratatouille! I can’t blame them – before they came for dinner I was in my studio doing the exact same thing with a professional camera!
Though it looks very fancy, this Ratatouille is far from it. It actually could not be simpler. All you need is a bit of time and patience and a VERY SHARP KNIFE!!! I used this new Zwilling Diplome Chef’s Knife – which I am giving away starting tomorrow (Sunday, September 24, 2017). Stay tuned for the giveaway announcement on my instagram tomorrow! It’s an absolute beauty of a knife and is a pleasure to use! It’s made in Japan and in collaboration with Le Cordon Bleu. I’m stoked to be able to give one away to a lucky member of the Primal Gourmet community!
If you don’t have a kick-ass knife, and want to take a faster approach, you can use the slicer attachment on a food processor and push the vegetables through the top feeder. Or, you can use a mandoline. I swear by this Benriner model – which is very affordable and is the standard when it comes to mandonlines.
Can You Make Ratatouille Ahead of Time?
Without fail, the top asked question I get for any recipe is, “Can it be made ahead of time?” In the case of this Ratatouille the answer is, YES! Well, to a certain degree. You can definitely cook the sauce, prep the veggies and arrange the dish the day before. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. That’s exactly what I did! If you want to make it more than a day in advance, you will have to freeze it. Which will work, but only if you wrap it very tightly to avoid freezer burn on the veggies.
Ideally, you want to cook the ratatouille the day of, right before serving. You want the steam and aromas from the herbs and garlic to perfume the air as it hits the dinner table! And then sit back and watch as your guests start scrambling for their cameras!
I hope you like this recipe and be sure to let me know what you think in the comments below!
INGREDIENTS: (serves 8 as a side dish)
4-5 small, Italian eggplants
4-5 medium-sized green zucchini
4-5 medium-sized yellow squash/zucchini
6-8 Roma tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 medium cooking onion – finely diced
4 cloves garlic – finely minced
1.5 tsp dried Herbes de Provence – can be purchased in store
1 tsp fresh oregano or thyme leaves
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
500ml tomato passata – preferably in a glass jar
salt and pepper to taste
- Char the red pepper over a gas burner or under your oven broiler until all of the skin is black. Transfer blackened pepper to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap. When cool to the touch, peel, deseed and dice. Set aside.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Use a pairing knife to score the bottom of the tomato in an X-shape (opposite side of the stem). Add the tomatoes to the boiling water and boil for exactly 45 seconds. Remove tomatoes and transfer to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Peel and discard tomato skin. Finely slice the tomatoes into 1mm discs. Set aside.
- Similarly slice the eggplant, zucchini and squash into 1mm discs – set aside.
- Heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-low heat. Add onions and sauté 10-12 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add garlic and sauté an additional 60 seconds. Add diced red pepper, tomato passata, Herbes de Provence and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and cook 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust as required. Remove from heat.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Meanwhile, begin arranging the sliced vegetables overtop of the skillet with tomato sauce. First, follow the outer curve of the skillet. Do the same thing along the inside of the skillet before finishing with a rose-shaped centre.
- Scatter the oregano leaves overtop of the vegetables and drizzle everything with 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil.
- Cover the vegetables with a piece of parchment paper – cut in a circle to fit the skillet.
- Transfer to oven and roast approximately 45 minutes (depending on strength of oven). Remove parchment paper and roast an additional 10-15 minutes until the top edges are slightly golden.
- Remove from oven let stand 10 minutes before serving.