After seeing Remy create this simple, savory dish in the movie Ratatouille, many chefs were inspired to replicate or create their own version of this “peasant food.” Since I lack the patience to thinly slice the vegetables, I hesitated to bake one at home but as soon as I opened the steel mandoline for our anniversary (11th is steel), I could not wait to try one of the recipes online for Ratatouille.
Ratatouille is usually served during the summer when the vegetables are in the peak season. I am sure it will have more flavor then but I think the green and red vegetables are very festive for the holiday. Plus, we are fortunate to have a local Whole Foods that can get fresh vegetables from other countries when they are in season.
Thomas Keller of the French Laundry created a version of Ratatouille using a Piperade from the Basque of France. You can use a tomato sauce if you do not have the time to make your own. If you are looking for a simplier version, then here is one from the Smitten Kitchen.
This Piperade adds a very spicy, gourmet flavor to your vegetables. If you have kids, I highly recommend adding a lot of olive oil or cream to tone down the spice in the peppers. I made two dishes so one had the full strength Piperade and the other was diluted with about 1/4 cup of olive oil. Both tasted amazing.
1) Preheat the oven to 300F. Butter or oil the cast iron skillet or casserole dish. Oval or circular look the best for the presentation.
2) Make the piperade (click for detailed directions) and spread along the bottom of the dish about 1 inch in thickness. I pureed the piperade for a creamy sauce.
3) Slice the zucchini and yellow squash in 1/8″ slices with the mandoline. (I could not get the tomato to slice on the mandoline since they were too soft. Instead I sliced them by hand and placed the tomatoes on the piperade since they were not the prettiest. )After slicing, start in the middle and work your way outward by alternating the squash and zucchini (and tomato if thinly sliced) until you complete the spiral pattern below. Add the chopped garlic and thyme. Drizzle with olive oil.
4) Lay a piece of parchment paper over the dish and cut the paper with a knife so it fits inside the dish and covers the vegetables. Then bake the ratatouille for 1 hour and 45 minutes. Slowly remove the parchment paper and disregard. Bake for another 25 minutes until the vegetables are a light brown.
5) Plate the ratatouille and drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper if you wish.
Sorry my presentation is not as good as Remy’s but it was late, I did not have any light, and we were starving!