Thanks to a very entertaining film from Pixar, ratatouille has had a reboot from the rustic roasted casserole that nine times out of 10 turned into a gummy inedible mess.
The fancier version is good, but it loses some of the rustic charm and forgets about the most important ingredient.
The tomato sauce.
Well here is my take on ratatouille with an Italian twist. I used fresh tomatoes for the sauce, but canned whole tomatoes work too. Make sure to use really fresh vegetables though and pick eggplant and zucchini that are about two inches thick. Basically the sliced vegetables should be a little taller then the top of a pie plate. You will also need a 9″ pie plate for this.
- 1 lb eggplant cut into 1/8″ slices end pieces discarded
- 1 lb zucchini cut into 1/8″ slices end pieces discarded
- 1 small red onion sliced paper thin then sliced in half
- 1 large red bell pepper sliced into thin rings then sliced in half
- 12-14 Roma tomatoes skinned and blended smooth or 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes drained and blended smooth
- 2 tbsp tomato paste mixed with 1/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 6 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
- 6 basil leaves cut into thin ribbons
Place garlic in a square of tin foil, drizzle with olive oil and fold into a pouch. Roast at 365 degrees until golden and soft, about 25 minutes. Mash garlic to a paste. In a 3 quart stock pan bring tomato paste to a boil then turn heat down to a low simmer and add blended tomatoes, garlic paste, wine and thyme. Simmer until sauce is thick, stirring often, about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and spread half sauce into the bottom of the pie plate. working with 1 vegetable at a time make a ring around the edge of the pie plate starting with eggplant, then zucchini, then onion and then bell pepper. Press the rows into each other and up so they stand upright and push the sauce up into each layer a bit. Continue to alternate rings of vegetables until the pie plate is full, adding more sauce to the center as it gets used up. Top with any remaining sauce and sprinkle basil all over. Cover top with a sheet of parchment paper and roast at 360 degrees until edges of vegetables begin to brown, about 30 minutes. Do not overcook it or the eggplant will be gummy and mushy instead of crisp. Let sit for ten minutes before serving.
For any one who has not seen this movie, go see it.
What, you thought I was going to do the scene with the ratatouille. For shame.