“Humans don’t just survive; they discover; they create...I mean, just look at what they do with food!”--Remy (the adorable rat from Ratatouille)
Just as the strawberry moon peeked up from the horizon, I was leaving the gym, pleasantly surprised to find a pop up market in the parking lot. Baskets of early season tomatoes and squash, tiny eggplant and peppers, and beautiful heads of leaf lettuces covered three tables beneath a canopy. My eureka sense took over. Ratatouille! Growing up in the kitchen, I watched my mom and sister labor over this classic French vegetable stew and I would have no part of it. I deprived myself of the delicacy until my second baby was born twenty years ago. My sweet neighbor Claudia delivered dinner for our family -- I can still hear her saying, “It’s nothing fancy, just a roast chicken and potatoes, and some ratatouille.” My grown up palate devoured the silky vegetables and I was forever converted.
Flash ahead to 2007 and this dish stole the hearts of all with the animated film Ratatouille. starring an adorable rat residing in a famous restaurant in Paris. The plot is much thicker than even a pot of succulent vegetable stew and has a fitting denoument. Children across America fell in love with the darling rat, Remy and this ornate collection of summer vegetables. Julia’s version is a pot brimming with fall-apart tender vegetables. The animated dish deconstructs it into art. I created my own version with my haul from the pop up market. Happy Cooking!
classically made on the stove top, here I arrange the sliced vegetables in a ceramic pie pan and roast it in the oven. Simple and delicious!
- 1 medium tomato, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, divided
- 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 slender zucchini, ends trimmed and very thinly sliced
- 1 slender yellow squash, ends trimmed and very thinly sliced
- 1 slender eggplant, ends trimmed and very thinly sliced
- 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored and quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced
Heat the oven to 375. Toss the tomato and garlic together in a glass or ceramic pie pan and add 1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Spread across the bottom of the pan. Combine the sliced zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant in a medium bowl and drizzle with 2 tablespoons olive oil and add the remaining 2 teaspoons fresh thyme. Toss to lightly coat the vegetables, then sprinkle in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Arrange the vegetable circles on top of the tomatoes in the dish, alternating to make a pretty pattern, if desired. Sprinkle with the sliced bell pepper and drizzle the top with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and a final sprinkle of salt. Roast in the oven until vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown on the edges, about 40 minutes. Let cool slightly before serving.
Makes 6 servings