So admit it... you had no idea what ratatouille was until Pixar introduced us to that adorable movie about it. At least, I didn't. I have a particular soft spot for the film as I first saw it with my little brother Ben on one of our ritual sibling date nights (back when he still thought I was cool). Afterwards, we went to Red Robin (his pick) and I paid... hmph, now that he's taller than I am, it's time for payback.
After the movie though, I started seeing ratatouille everywhere! A classic Mediterranean dish, ratatouille is not only flavorful but really healthy (vegan) and easy to make. I love all the vegetables that go into it: eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and tomatoes. A simple dish like this does indeed prove that it's true, 'Anyone CAN cook!' (baking, however, is still strictly for the pros).
This dish also tastes great both hot and at room temperature (even cold) which makes for nice leftovers or packed lunch. My version is the traditional rustic dish, but to see the 'movie' version look at this cute take on Smitten Kitchen. I may have to make it with my brother next time I'm home.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 medium eggplant, medium diced with skin on
- ½ teaspoon fresh or dried thyme leaves
- ½ teaspoon fresh or dried rosemary
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 2 zucchini squash, diced
- 1 yellow squash, diced
- 1 14.5 ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
(1) Set a large 12-inch sauté pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and garlic to the pan. Cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they are wilted and lightly caramelized, about 5 to 7 minutes. (2) Add the eggplant, thyme, and rosemary to the pan. Drizzle another tablespoon of olive oil and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the eggplant is partially cooked, about 5 minutes. (3) Add the diced bell pepper, zucchini, squash and garlic. Drizzle over another tablespoon of olive oil and continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes. (4) Add the canned tomatoes and salt and pepper, to taste (about 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper for me), and cook for a final 5 minutes. (5) Stir well to blend and serve over a bed of cooked couscous or quinoa, either hot or at room temperature.
Note: Make sure your pan is large enough. I may or may not have had to divide my ratatouille halfway through cooking because my pan was overcrowded (ok, I definitely did). You want the vegetables to lightly sauté, not steam.
Makes 6 servings