Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Having seen how georgeous it came out and having read the rave reviews from many sources, I just HAD to try the ratatouille based off the one in the recent Disney movie. Sadly, like a culinary rat with just processed American cheese, I was disapointed and left craving more.

I got the recipe from Smitten Kitchen who has posted some delightful recipes, just, in my and my roommates' opinions, this was not the best. It tasted just fine, sure. It was a good texture and good combo of taste, but it was, in no way, worth the time and effort it took.Look how much prep there is! It took forever. My mandoline refused to neatly cut the eggplant or the pepper or the onion...so it took a LONG time. Add in slicing time of zucchini and squash, and you get a dish that is not worth the work you put in.
Also, it wasn't filling. I served HEFTY portions (more than half of a 9x13 pan) of the stuff over cous cous...and we were still craving protein and fullfillment. Sorry, but this is just a really nice, really hard to prepare salad or side dish, not an entree.
Yes it is yummy. Yes it is pretty. Yes it is really good for you. But it is not a meal and it is not worth the effort. If you, say, had unlimited time, this would be great served as a side along side chicken parm. Replace the pasta with these veggies to make it better for you and more creative. Would be delicious! But not worth the work otherwise.
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside.
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. 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.

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