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Ratatouille (not the movie!!!)

tl;dr recipe at the bottom


I literally tried to find information and backstory for this dish and most things I found went like this: French dish from Provence (and Nice), mainly enjoyed by peasants around 1770. It consists of vegetables and without further ado go see the movie. I am not a huge fan to rephrase stuff that others have said to make them sound as my own, so I'll just link a couple of useful blogs if you enjoy learning how vegetables ended up together in the same pan by some village folk.

  • Frenchcountryfood has some solid information

  • Erinnudi has almost the same information. Not sure who stole from whom but I don't care either.

The Idea


What I am going to write here is my own take and not any official stuff, so feel free to just curse me and not anyone else. Numbered cuisines have a dish like this. Most countries passed through an era that they were mostly poor so veggies were on the table most of the time. My country's take on this dish is called Briam which is a fine dish BUT to truly enjoy it you either must be vegetarian or like vegetables more than meat. To be honest #Briam and #Ratatouille have nothing to be jealous from one another mainly because both dishes are almost identical. They might have some differences in what veggies to use, or some different herbs but at the end of the day they both are a colorful veggie dish. What makes Ratatouille different though, is its way to be displayed. #French people, brilliant as they are, understood that the gravity of the presentation of such a dish was already low as it was first displayed as "vegetables in a pot". While the taste was not changed at all, they knew the visual should change and it did. Now not only you have to eat just cooked vegetables, but you have to work and sweat for them as well. What those ingenious b@sterds did, was to split the recipe into two parts (the sauce and the placing of vegetables on the pan) and convert this plain dish from Briam to a glorified Briam, or in our case: Ratatouille. Let's get started with the easy part which is the sauce.


Part 1 - Sauce


Well the concept here is really easy to get. This part acts as a base where the vegetables will step so they don't touch the bottom of the pan. It consists of colorful bell peppers, onions, melted garlic, and all those herbed with basil at the end. Ideally cut everything in cubes (dice) so it helps you later with the decoration. The sauce needs all those veggies in a pan, to be sauted in olive oil until they get soft but not in high heat. I kept it in medium and it was way easier to control the color and the softness of the peppers and the onion. I don't know if I was supposed to do that but added a shot of red wine to give a boost in aroma and some more sweetness to the sauce. When the alcohol got evaporated, I added 200 ml of tomato juice and one and a half tablespoons of tomato paste that I had prior mixed with a bit of hot water. Let it simmer and reduce the excess water for 15 minutes in medium - high heat. When finished, I added finely chopped basil, salt and pepper until I was happy with the result.

Part 2 - Paying for your sins



Sooooo, if you happen to have a Mantolin Cutter (I know it sounds like a spaceship model, but I swear it is a cuisine utensil) you might be still able to not curse for each time you thought "yeah I should make Ratatouille, why not". If the Gods do not love you and never gave you the wisdom to own one, you have two choices. A. go buy a mantolin cutter NOW or

B. Cut the veggies by yourself which adds about 3 weeks to preparation time, lower the visual result and subtract 10 points from Gryffindor.

There is a right order to cut the vegetables so they don't get black spots. Start by slicing the tomatoes first, then the zucchinis, then squashes and last the eggplants. If you cant find any squashes (like me) replace them with another variety of eggplants (e.g. white).

Then the fun part begins. Preheat the oven to 180 C (34246534 F or something like that). Take the container that you like to create your Ratatouille and add the sauce evenly. I prefered circular container to rectangular in order to create a flowery (-ish) shape. Then take a slice from each vegetable in your hand and create patterns as shown on the picture below and slowly fill your container.







Part 3 - Extra taste

Just before putting it inside the oven, take a bowl and add 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil. Crush a garlic clove in it, add salt, pepper and lots of dried thyme ( lots = a full tablespoon). Mix it well an then with a spoon spread the mixture evenly over Ratatouille. This will help the vegetables to cook nicely on the top side and gain some more flavor as the sauce besides them can't reach the top. Cover the whole pan with tin foil (without letting it touch the veggies) in order to avoid alien species, mentally contact it and place it into the oven for 40 minutes. At 40 minutes mark, remove the foil and let it cook for 15 minutes more so you get some color.

When it is ready and you are happy with the result, retract it from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.

Serve it as main dish with lots of bread, over rice (or couscous), or as a side dish to accompany your selected main. Don't forget to garnish it with some more basil.



Ingredients

Prep time:20 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Serves:4


Sauce

  • 1 Yellow bell pepper

  • 1 Orange bell pepper

  • 1 Red bell pepper

  • 1 Onion (diced)

  • 1 Garlic clove (melted)

  • 200 ml canned tomato juice

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste (diluted in hot water)

  • Salt- pepper to taste

  • 6 big basil leaves

  • (Optional) 1 shot of red wine

Ratatouille Veggies

  • 2 Eggplants

  • 2 Yellow Squash (or other variety of eggplant)

  • 4 tomatoes

  • 2 Zucchinis

  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

  • 1 tablespoon of dried thyme

  • 1 smashed garlic clove

  • salt and pepper


tl;dr version

  • Dice bell peppers and onion. Smash the garlic clove

  • Sauce them in a pan in olive oil, in medium heat for 5 minutes.

  • Add the wine shot and wait until alcohol evaporates. Add canned tomato juice and tomato diluted (in some hot water) tomato paste.

  • Add salt and pepper and let it simmer to reduce the liquids (about 10 minutes)

  • Preheat oven at 180 C

  • Slice alla veggies, starting by tomatoes, then squashes, then zucchinis and last the eggplants.

  • Add sauce in the container that you will cook it and spread it evenly.

  • Take slices as shown in pictures above and create your Ratatouille.

  • Make a mixtures with olive oil, garlic, thyme salt and pepper and spread it over the vegetables.

  • Cover with tin foil and bake for 40 minutes.

  • Remove the foil and bake for 15 more minutes.

  • Let it rest and serve after 10-15 minutes. Garnish with basil leaves, finely chopped or not.


Enjoy!


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