Friday, February 29, 2008

year of the rat-atouille

In honor of this year's Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature - Remy's Ratatouille, a version of the classic peasant dish inspired by the Thomas Keller-designed version in the movie. This one didn't come out quite so fancy looking, but it really was delicious. I'm talking J-Cat and I eating directly out of the casserole dish delicious. And it was so incredibly simple, I can't believe I've never made ratatouille before.

The only part that was remotely time-consuming was slicing the vegetables into the tell-tale super-thin rounds that characterized the movie's dish. Since I have a craptacular cheapo version of a mandoline, I ended up having to slice the eggplant and pepper by hand. But despite this, it was still quick enough.

I served this alongside a piece of Chilean sea bass that I simply salted and peppered and pan seared, plus toasted slices of peasant wheat bread spread with soft goat cheese. The fish was awesome, but the combo of the ratatouille with the goat cheese really stole the show. If not for my attempts to get some sort of protein in every meal, I would have been more than happy to stuff the veggies and bread and nothing else.

Recipe after the jump:

1 28-oz can diced plum tomatoes, drained
1 large shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 Italian eggplant
1 red bell pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
5 sprigs fresh thyme, stripped from the stems
5 leaves fresh basil, cut into ribbons
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 10-inch diameter round or oval ovenproof casserole with the diced tomatoes, then scatter the shallots and garlic slices evenly. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice the eggplant, squash, and zucchini into very thin rounds. Slice off the top and bottom of the pepper and remove the seeds and ribs from the interior, taking care to keep the pepper intact. Layer the the slices concentrically from the edge of the dish toward the interior, alternating and overlapping the vegetables so that only a small sliver of each kind is visible. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, thyme leaves, and basil, and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven uncovered for 20 minutes, then cover with foil for an additional 15-20 minutes until vegetables are tender and sauce is bubbling.

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