I get it now….the joy and rapture felt by the mean food critic in the movie, “Ratatouille.” Do you remember that scene…the emotion, the memories, the savoring every single bite???
After I saw the movie, I made ratatouille for the first time. It was ok. Nothing special; probably because I used out-of-season ingredients. (tisk, tisk—I should know better.)
Monday night, I made it using the freshest of ingredients from my garden, from Jennifer’s garden and from the Farmer’s market, including unbelievably flavorful tomatoes and a variety of eggplants (purple striped ones, yellow and purple ones, white ones—and yes, I should have taken a picture but my camera wasn’t charged). Plus, onions, garlic, red bell peppers and thyme.
After assembling the ratatouille, I had some leftover onions and peppers and decide to do a little “test.” I decided to roast the extra veggies on a cookie sheet with olive oil, salt and pepper–just like I normally do. And then, I’d bake the ratatouille at the same time.
What an eye opener…the roasted vegetables were fine…slightly dry and smoky with good flavor. BUT, the ratatouille was oozing and dripping with flavors from the garden…the onions at the bottom of the casserole were tender and amazing…all the flavors melded together, while also keeping their unique individual essence (Can you see me channeling that food critic from the movie? Yes, that’s what happened on my front porch while I ate dinner. Now wouldn’t that have made a great photo?!).
I based my casserole on a recipe in Mark Bittman’s ” How To Cook Everything” cookbook, but I disregarded quantities and just did one layer of each.
Ingredients (forget all that measuring–just go for it )
Salt & Pepper
Great Parmesan Cheese (I added this…liked the idea of a little salty extra)
In casserole pan:
Spread a little olive oil on the bottom of the pan, then a layer of sliced onions, next a layer of red bell peppers, followed by a layer of eggplant, topped with a layer of thick sliced tomatoes. Sprinkle whole, peeled garlic cloves on top, and fresh thyme (leaves from 6-8 good size sprigs), a generous amount of salt & pepper and then drizzle olive oil on top (maybe 1-2 Tbs). Cook until all the veggies are soft.
At 30 minutes, I checked on vegetables and flattened the casserole with a spatula, did the same at 40 minutes plus added a little Parmesan cheese on top, and at 45 minutes it was complete.
Baked in a 400 degree oven.
Yes, I’m in love with ratatouille.
(So much so, that I will be continuing my love fest this weekend with a Ratatouille Cornmeal Tart recipe!)
UPDATE September 21: Ratatouille Tart was tasty, but not as mesmerizing as the simple Ratatouille. Looked gorgeous though! As did my daughter’s Tomato Pie, in the background.