Monday, May 16, 2011

Day 137: Ratta-tatta

I've had ratatouille before. I've made ratatouille before. But I've never had or made it with Japanese eggplant, and I've never made it this way.

Tonight's dinner started out as an attempt to recreate the ratatouille dish from the Disney Pixar movie. But, given that it was my first shot, it didn't turn out that way. I sliced my veg (Japanese eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini) on my Japanese mandolin, but mine is a fairly cheap model that doesn't do the requisite paper-thin slices. Also, I didn't have the shallow dish required. Also, I didn't produce a thin enough sauce. So it turned out more like a stew, but the process I put it through still made for the most scrumptious ratatouille of my entire life. In my attempt for the movie presentation, I moved everything into a baking dish and layered the vegetable slices in a pretty way, but the recipe calls for baking it in the same dish you cook the sauce in, because that's how I plan to do it next time.

Ratatouille Almost-a-la-Pixar:

2 Japanese eggplants
2 small zucchini
2 small yellow squash
1 medium/large yellow onion
1 medium green bell pepper
1 medium red bell pepper
3 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tbsp olive oil
1 can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup orange juice

Rough chop the onion and bell peppers. Puree them in a food processor, until they're really pulverized. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and one clove garlic in a dutch oven, until the garlic starts to brown. Discard the garlic and add the pureed veg, dried herbs, salt and pepper; cook for about 20 min over medium heat, until the mixture is more brown than red. Add the tomato paste. Cook about 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning. Add tomato sauce, water, and orange juice. Bring to a boil; reduce to simmer. Cook with the lid slightly ajar for approximately one hour, until the sauce is nice and thick. In the meantime, slice the squash, zucchini, and eggplant on a Japanese mandolin, or thinly by hand. Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. When the sauce has reduced, stir in the squash, zucchini, and eggplant. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the veggies have softened. Serve with crusty bread.

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