Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Rat-a-Tat-Ouille

Ever since I first saw the movie Ratatouille a few years ago, I've been craving Ratatouille. It's taken me a few years to get around to actually making it because the last time I had Ratatouille, I overdid it. I was living in France at the time, and my friend Rosie made Ratatouille for a Sunday night dinner. It was, of course, a big hit. So much so that we made it again the next weekend, and again the next weekend, and again, and so on. Our addiction got so bad that WE smelled like Ratatouille. As Julia Child says in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Ratatouille "perfumes the kitchen with the essence of Provence." It sounds romantic, but it's really not fun to smell like the essence of Provence. It took a few weeks to totally rid her apartment and all of our stuff of the smell of Ratatouille. Too much of any good thing can drive you to hate it - lesson learned!

I swore that the last bite I took of Ratatouille eight years ago would be my last forever. UNTIL, I saw Ratatouille! It's taken me five years since I saw the movie to work up the nerve to make it again, and I was so delighted to find Smitten Kitchen's recipe for Ratatouille's Ratatouille! If you've seen the movie, you must remember how gorgeous and enticing that colorful Ratatouille was.

This is a non-traditional Ratatouille recipe - it is actually more of a confit byaldi. It is baked and it doesn't have herbes de provence so you won't smell of their essence. We served it with crusty french bread and goat cheese, and it was perfect.

We broke all of the rules... Oregon pinot noir. Yikes!

Not quite as pretty as Remy's...

Ratatouille’s Ratatouille
As envisioned by Smitten Kitchen

1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant ( “Italian Eggplant” are less than half the size of regular ones and work perfectly)
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Few tablespoons soft goat cheese, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

  1. Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, approximately 10 inches across the long way. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.
  3. On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick. (I used a sharp knife and it was no problem)
  4. Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.
  5. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish.
  6. Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. (Tip: cut the parchment paper to fit BEFORE you put the vegetables in the casserole. You can trace the top of the casserole and cut it accordingly if you do it ahead of time. Another lesson learned.)
  7. Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.
  8. Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain.


  1. You're right, Mégane: it is NOT fun to smell like the essence of Provence! This looks amazing. I love Smitten Kitchen and everything she makes!

  2. Ooo, pretty picture!!!!! Looks delish.


Hey, thank you!

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