Ratatouille is one of Addie's favorite movies right now.
We have watched it at least 1,738 times. And I'm not gonna lie...it may be one of my favorite animated movies of all time too. If you haven't taken the time to sit down and watch this with your kids, nieces/nephews, grandchildren, etc...you need to. Or better yet...just rent it yourself! I promise you won't be disappointed. It is such a cute movie :-)
So the other day, while Addie and I were watching it, I asked her what she wanted for dinner. I expected her to say chicken nuggies like usual, but she said she wanted "Ratatouille!!!" I had to admit...the dish in the movie did look delicious. And since all of the veggies for it are in season, I thought what the heck...maybe I should cook Ratatouille for dinner.
So I went on a search for a recipe. In case you have never heard of Ratatouille, it is a chunky style vegetable stew. But in the movie, Remey slices the veggies very thin and bakes them in a tomato sauce. For a cartoon...the dish looked pretty darn delicious and I wanted to find a recipe similar to what they cook in the movie. And wouldn't you know...I found one on smittenkitchen.com!
You can find the recipe, as well as step-by-step instructions here. But to save you time, here is the recipe I used:
As envisioned by Smitten Kitchen
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant (my store sells these “Italian Eggplant” that are less than half the size of regular ones; it worked perfectly)
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Few tablespoons soft goat cheese, for serving
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
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. (Tricky, I know, but the hardest thing about this.)
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.
I actually made two very small changes to the recipe. I chose to serve my Ratatouille over angel hair pasta and instead of goat cheese, I grated fresh Parmesan.
Their dish photographed much better than mine did (I should have taken a picture before I baked it and all the sauce covered my veggies) but I am still pretty impressed with my first attempt at this recipe...
I gotta say...for a dinner based on a cartoon...this meal turned out DELICIOUS!!!
It was a crowd pleaser for everyone in our house. Eric really liked it (although he said I should find a way to put some meat in it next time. Ha!) and Addie ate her entire plate! Even Blake got to try some of it (I purred the leftover veggies for him). I have become a big fan of meals that can feed EVERYONE in the family...including Howie who got to lick the plates when we were done :-)
I honestly think the reason Addie got so excited about this meal is because we kept telling her it was ratatouille from the movie. So now I am on the hunt for more cartoon-inspired meals to help encourage Addie to try some new things. I just came across this Disney/Pixar cookbook at Amazon and I think it looks like a lot of fun!
Addie will probably like just looking at the pictures while I make the meals. And hey...maybe if she stares at the pictures while eating...she won't know she is eating spinach :-) One can only hope. Be sure to let me know if you try this rataouille recipe! I would love to know what you (or your kiddies) think of it!