Baked Ratatouille with herb sauce

After watching the Disney movie Ratatouille, how could you possibly not want to make this absolutely beautiful dish. While it does look very complicated, it’s actually quite easy, although to make it look pretty it is quite time-consuming. 

I looked up several different recipes for this dish. There were some that required you to individually saute each vegetable (there’s about 5-6 different vegetables) which is too time consuming. Not to mention those recipes also required you to saute them in batches. There were also the traditional Provencal dishes that are basically slow cooked stews. However, it being a hot day and a dish for a potluck, I opted for the baked version and combined the plethora of different ingredients from the multiple recipes that I looked through.

So just a quick overview, I have made this dish numerous times, and each time failing in either a watery gross tasteless mess, or with it tasting like a heavily seasoned pizza. Neither of those taste good nor even looked appealing.

The trick to all of this was creating a saucy base of tomatoes and herbs. Also, salting the eggplant is VERY IMPORTANT. If you don’t want watery Ratatouille, don’t skip this step. Essentially what happens when you salt the eggplant is that it draws out the moisture from the eggplant (which it has a lot of moisture) since the salt on the outside of the eggplant has a higher concentration of solution (basically the eggplant is not as “attractive” to water as the salt is). To do this step its best to cut your eggplant into the slices you want and lay a paper towel (you may need several) on the bottom, place them on top, toss them with a generous amount of salt, place another couple paper towels on top, put something heavy on top of them like a plate with a book or something, and let it sit for about an hour. Then drain all the water.

The trick to making this dish look pretty is by buying the same size and with vegetables. this will create that nice uniform look. Also, cutting them into the same thickness is another key which can easily be done by a julienne or if you are like me and do not have time for fancy tools, just roughly measure each slice by comparing it with the others.

One last thing. Please, please, PLEASE! use parchment paper. It will prevent your veggies from getting to dry and charred and even helps to retain the color of your dish. Just measure it out to the size of your pan and poke a few holes to allow the steam to escape. This step is a lifesaver when it comes to making ratatouille.

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Baked ratatouille

not quite like the movie but pretty close

Ingredients

• 5-6 medium zucchini about the same size cut into even thickness slices (they should be about 1/8 -1/4 thick)

• 5 Japanese eggplant cut into same thickness as zucchinis, sprinkle with salt and let sit for 1 hour to remove any water that may build up)

• 3 red bell peppers cut into even slices

• 2 tomatoes cut into even slices

• 6-7 white mushrooms cut into even slices

SAUCE INGREDIENTS:

• 4-5 cloves garlic minced

• lots of basil • 1 yellow onion finely diced

• 1 large can of peeled tomatoes (I used San marzanos)

• 1 large sprig of time

• 1/2 can of black olives plus juices

•1/4 c. Apple cider vinegar

• olive oil COOKWARE:

• 24×13 deep dish pan

• parchment paper

• sauté Pan

you can easily substitute the apple cider vinegar for 1/2 a cup of dry white wine if you prefer, I used apple cider vinegar because it was all I had.

Directions

    SAUCE:

  1. Heat about 1/2 tbsp. Of oil in the sauté pan. Once it’s hot reduce the heat to medium high heat and add the sprig of thyme.
  2. Remove the thyme after about a minute or so and then add in garlic stirring until brown. Once brown add in onions and cook until transparent.
  3. Once onions begin to carmelize, add in about 3-4 chopped olives for another minute. Then add in apple cider vinegar + 1-2 tbsp. Olive juice and then add in canned tomatoes allow it to simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add some basil and then remove from heat! Check and add salt if necessary .
  5. BAKE:
  6. Preheat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Pour about 3/4 of the sauce in the bottom of the pan and arrange the rest of the veggies however you like
  8. Drizzle with olive oil and too with the rest of the sauce, a handful of chopped fresh basil, and a few chopped olives
  9. Cover with parchment paper with holes poked in it and bake for 45 minutes-1 hour

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