There are several recipes or types of food which I’ve heard of, tried, or seen but have not yet tried to cook myself. One of those is ratatouille. The 2007 Disney movie brought the dish into the main stream consciousness with its adorable main character, Remy, a rat who just wanted to be a great chef. Ever since then it’s been in the back of my mind as a ‘make this someday’ dish.
Ratatouille the dish is traditionally a French dish consisting of stewed vegetables. It originated in the French province of Nice, and comes from the Occitan language “ratatolha” and the French word “touiller” meaning to toss food. There are similar dishes in many other cuisines, including the Catalan samfaina, the Majorcan tombet, the Spanish pisto, the Italian caponata, Greek tourloú, and Filipino pinkabet. French chef Michel Guérard came up with a new version called Confit byaldi for the Disney movie. It can be served as a side dish, or made a whole meal when served over rice.
In my version, I pulled together several variations, and used what I had available in my kitchen. I had planned on a potato leek soup sometime this week, but silly me had only bought one leek, so into the ratatouille it went. While I’m at it, I’ll throw the potato in there too. Oh, and a single turnip I had bought for who knows what reason. Also I had no fresh tomatoes, but my pantry is never without a can of diced tomatoes.
3 zucchini (I just happened to have three different colors, so at least it’ll look pretty)
1/2 red onion
3 large bulbs garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/4 green bell pepper, sliced
Step 1: Slice the onion into thin strips, dice up the garlic, and slice the leek. Add them and the bell pepper to a frying pan on low with the butter and cover.
Let that cook and caramelize, stirring occasionally, while you preheat the oven to 350 and proceed to the next step.
Step 2: Slice the zucchini into thin coins. Peel and slice the potato and turnip as well.
Step 3: Layer the potato, turnip, and zucchini in a casserole pan.
Step 3: To the pan add the can of diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then pour over the vegetables in the casserole dish.
Step 4: Cover in foil and bake at 350 for 45 min to an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when the slices are soft when poked with a fork.
I also took the foil off after 45 minutes and let it bake another 15 minutes to evaporate some of the juices. You can now serve it over rice or couscous, with fresh crusty bread, and/or sprinkle on some mozzarella. Deliciously vegetarian and very low fat and low calorie. Bake up a batch, put on the Ratatouille movie or some classic Julia Child and enjoy!
If you have a favorite French recipe, anecdote of your trip Paris or first year of chef school, or a story of attempting a French recipe that ended unfortunately, please share here!