I have a confession to make – I love Disney movies. I remember going to the Disney summer film festivals each summer as a child. Every week there was a couple of shorts and then a feature-length movie. It was one of my favorite summer memories.My kids loved Disney when they were old enough to watch their first movie, Beauty and the Beast. It’s our all-time favorite, but there have been others that are near the top of the list; like Ratatouille. I think I fell in love with this one because of my love of cooking and my dream to visit France. So when I saw this pin for the BuzzFeed Goodful recipe of Baked Ratatouille, inspired by Marie at Feeling Foodish, it made me think of the way that the rat-chef, Remy, took the traditional vegetable stew and transformed it into haute cuisine.
If you haven’t seen the movie yet, I don’t want to spoil it for you, but this little clip will let you see the dish that I’m referring to – and go watch the movie!
So in an attempt to recreate the dish that piqued my curiosity since it became a movie icon, here is the Pintesting of Baked Ratatouille.
There are three main steps to making this dish; the sauce, the veggies, and the herb seasoning.
1. The Sauce:
The sauce starts with fresh aromatics. I found it cheaper to get a potted basil plant at the grocery store than to buy a small packet of basil leaves in the herb section. Not only does the basil stay fresh longer, but it lasts longer and looks so pretty on my kitchen counter.
Sautee the onions and peppers in extra virgin olive oil.
When they start to soften add the garlic and season with salt and pepper. Minced garlic burns rather quickly, so I wait a bit before adding it.
Add the crushed tomatoes. By the way, this would be great over pasta.
Add the basil and take it off the heat.
2. The Vegetables:
Now for the veggies. Try to find similarly sized vegetables. This is one of the first times I’ve ever cooked eggplant, and I should have chosen more wisely. You’ll find out why in a moment.
Slice the vegetables thinly. I used a mandoline (seen above) for the yellow squash and zucchini, but the eggplant was too wide and the tomatoes didn’t slice well so I used a knife on them.
As you can see, the eggplant was MUCH larger than the rest of the veggies. Not one to give up, I knew there had to be a way to make this work.
I used double everything other than the eggplant, and it seemed to fit well. Voilà!
Layer the veggies in a pattern.
Continue this all the way around the pan making concentric rings. I ended up cutting the eggplant in order to make it fit in the center ring.
3. The Herb Seasoning:
This calls for fresh herbs; thyme, basil, and parsley. The store didn’t have fresh parsley so I used dried.
NOTE: When substituting dried herbs for fresh, remember that they are more potent when they’re dried. You usually need about 3 times the amount of fresh herbs as you would dried herbs. In this case, 2 Tablespoons of fresh parsley would be about 2 teaspoons of dried parsley.
Mix the herb seasoning. It smells incredible!
Brush it on the arranged vegetables.
See how pretty that looks!
Bake it covered for 40 minutes in a 375-degree pre-heated oven. Remove the cover and bake another 20 minutes.
Give it just a minute to cool and then dig in. We had eaten lunch not too long beforehand, so this was a separate vegetable course. It smelled and tasted so good that I had two small “just-to-taste” servings while my HH had three.
We ate the leftovers the next day with some oven-baked fish – so delicious! The flavors have longer to get to know each other and play more nicely together; similarly to how lasagna or chili tastes better the next day.
Fin (The End):
The number of vegetables called for in the recipe was nearly double of what would fit into the pan. We didn’t complain since most of the prep work was done and I just made another batch. If eating veggies the same way too many days in a row sounds boring, I found some ways to do a ratatouille makeover. Check here and here for inspiration.
A French foodie friend told me that the ratatouille on the movie is not really ratatouille, which is a simple vegetable stew. So I searched for the Ratatouille version of ratatouille and found that it’s actually called Confit Byaldi. In the image below, the Disney Pixar version of the dish is shown at the top with a real version shown beneath (one being mine).
I want to leave you with some inspiration; a quote from the illustrious Chef Gusteau, “Anyone can cook but only the fearless can be great.” Be fearless. Be Great. Try this recipe.
The Pintesting Results:
Overall Results: 4.0 Pins
Accuracy: The dish turned out looking like the recipe picture and tasted delicious, but the number of vegetables was nearly double of what the pan could hold and that’s a lot of extra veggies. Also, the recipe didn’t specify the kind of eggplant to use in order to get similar-sized slices for uniformity. For these reasons, I’m giving this 4 Pins.
Difficulty: This recipe requires a lot of prep work for all three parts. If you don’t have a mandoline and need to slice all of the vegetables with a knife, it will take a bit of time, too. You will use the chop, slice, and chiffonade knife techniques; not hard, but not easy enough for kids. 4 Pins
Time: There are about 15 minutes of prep work to get all the veggies done, plus about 15 minutes to cook the sauce and an hour of baking time. That’s an hour and a half. Don’t get me wrong – it’s absolutely worth the time and you can make extra to freeze or you can get it layered early in the day and cook it for supper, but it’s not going to be a 30-minute meal. 3 Pins
Cost: If you have a garden and need to use up a bumper crop of vegetables, then this is a cheap dish to make. However, if you need to hit the grocery store for everything it could get costly depending on what’s in season and on sale. Since produce prices fluctuate substantially by regions and seasons, I’m not going to give a specific price, but I will give this 4 Pins.
Practicality: If you have or know kids (little or big ones) who don’t care for vegetables, this might be one way to get them to eat them. First, it’s delicious. Second, it’s from a movie. Let the Disney magic work in your favor here. That the flavor is even better if you have leftovers is a big plus. I also love that leftovers can be transformed into everything from quiche, omelets, sauces, quesadillas, soups, and so much more. 5 Pins