One day back in February I opened my email to find divine inspiration. A good friend had sent over a video on making ratatouille (http://sploid.gizmodo.com/how-to-make-ratatouille-just-like-the-pixar-movie-1755888210) according to the “confit Biyaldi” styled ratatouille from the Pixar movie of the same name. Now, normally this would be a late summer, early fall dish with all the veggies picked at their perfect ripeness straight from your garden however it was just the prompt that I needed to get some extra veggies onto the menu in winter (for a whole week I might add, as I made a rather large version). In fact, the making of the ratatouille ended up also being the creation of a great veggie soup. I got mandolin snap happy and sliced up a storm .
Ratatouille is one of those dishes that I’ve made for years as a staple but for some reason it had fallen off my radar, so I really didn’t need much of a push to start making it again. (and it was fun to plug in the video yet again). As it was winter (last month and now its spring hooray) and I really didn’t feel like making more than one veggie dish, I decided to add thinly sliced potato as well for the carb loving people at my table. This does sometimes make it necessary to cook the dish a bit longer but everyone thought the potato was a good addition.
A twist on this ratatouille is the piperade on the bottom of the pan which helps keep the veggies from sticking and burning. One of the great things I liked about the video above was the comment to just throw in the leftover peelings and ends of the veggies into the piperade so that you really are not wasting anything and get an extra kick of flavour. They all whip up in the blender nicely. If you like a bit of a heat to your dishes, sprinkle a bit of hot chillies into the piperade.The stacked veggies should sit nicely against the side of the pan and sort of stick to the piperade. If not have a toothpick or two on hand to help
Putting it all together goes quite quickly so don’t be put off thinking it will be too much effort. The final dish is really worth it. Watch the video above and you will see just how easy it is.
- 1 orange and 1 yellow pepper cleaned from seeds and ribs
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ½ cup finely diced yellow onion
- 3-4 medium tomatoes
- 1 sprig thyme
- Kosher salt/ fresh ground pepper
- splash of white wine when cooking the onions and garlic
- MAIN VEGETABLES:
- 2 green zucchini, sliced in 1/16-inch rounds (4 to 5 ounces)
- 2 small regular or Japanese eggplant, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds (4 to 5 ounces)
- 2 yellow zucchini , sliced into 1/16-inch rounds (4 to 5 ounces)
- 2 -3 medium potatoes (optional)
- 4 tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-inch rounds
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1-2 tsp of herbs de provence
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
- FOR VINAIGRETTE
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oi
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- ½ tsp dijon
- Assorted fresh herbs (thyme flowers, chives, chervil, thyme)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- For the piperade
- Heat oven to 450 degrees.
- Place pepper halves on a baking sheet, cut side down. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. (this can also be done on the BBQ.) Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop.
- While the peppers are cooking, combine oil, garlic, and onion in skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, deglaze pan with a ¼ cup of wine. Add tomatoes, their juices, and thyme. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs. Place mixture in food processor or blender and puree. Reserve tablespoon of mixture and spread the mixture in the bottom of an 9-inch baking pan or cast iron pan being careful not to spread the layer too thick. Reserve some of the puree to make a vinaigrette later.
- For the vegetables
- heat oven to 275 degrees.
- Begin by making small vegetable stacks of alternating slices of vegetables and place in a circular motion over piperade, overlapping so that only ¼ inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled; all vegetables may not be needed. (and will make an awesome soup for lunch the next day)
- Mix garlic, oil, and herbs de provence in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven until warm.).
- For vinaigrette, combine reserved piperade, oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.
- To serve slice and very carefully lift onto plate with offset spatula. Turn spatula 90 degrees, guiding byaldi into fan shape. Drizzle vinaigrette around plate. Serve hot.
Make sure that you test the potatoes as they will need the longest to cook. You can also use a lid instead of tinfoil and do your part in reducing the environmental impact of making this ratatouille. Bon apetit!
Should you have leftovers, sauté them with garlic, onion, and maybe a few more peppers. Puree and then add 2-3 cups chicken broth, a squeeze of lemon and you have lunch for the next day or two.