That’s one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies: Ratatouille. If you’re not familiar with it, go find it and watch it right away. Not only is it a cute story revolving around food and a good introduction into Foodservice Management (if you ever have to take that class), but it managed to elevate the traditional delicious-but-mushy-grossness of ratatouille, the stew made of eggplant, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, and other traditional Provencal flavors to a colorful, gourmet veggie side that every dietitian can get behind.
Of course, I can’t just see something that beautiful and healthy and let it stay in my DVD player. Towards the end of the summer, when all these ingredients get really really cheap, I bough a lot of them to make this. I also did my research, looking at traditional ratatouille dishes and other cook’s attempts at this dish and then figured out how to do it on my own.
One thing that is absolutely crucial, perhaps even more than all the right ingredients, is a mandoline or V-slicer. Unless you have the knife skills of Morimoto, this is the only way to get paper-thin uniform slices of vegetables. And please use the hand guard. Bad things happen if you don’t. To recreate this movie masterpiece, this is what I did:
(Amounts of vegetables depends on how big your baking dish is)
2 parts zucchini
2 parts squash
1 part eggplant
1 part tomato
Tomato sauce, seasoned with toasted garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, and salt (if necessary)
Mozz and romano cheese
Salt and herbs to taste
1) Slice all the vegetables on the thinnest setting of the mandoline.
2) Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spread the seasoned tomato sauce on the entire bottom surface of a baking dish (glass or ceramic).
3) Layer the vegetables concentrically in the dish (Z,S,T,Z,S,E, and repeat, if you know what I mean). I ran out of T and E, so the middle is just the squashes. Oh well.
4) Season however you’d like and bake it for 15 minutes. At this point, you can take it out and store it in the fridge for a few days (it’s a great make-ahead dish for fancy dinner parties).
5) To finish baking (immediately or after refrigeration), grate fresh mozz and romano over the top of the veggies. Bake another 10-15 minutes or until the veggies are soft, the sauce is bubbling, and the cheese is browning (you may have to use the broiler to get it really crusty).
If you’re really fancy, try to carefully scoop it out in layers so that you can make pretty circles of it on each plate, with the cheese all crusty and melty on top and the sauce dribbling all over the bottom.
- 2 parts zucchini
- 2 parts squash
- 1 part eggplant
- 1 part tomato
- Tomato sauce, seasoned with toasted garlic, dried oregano, dried basil, and salt
- Mozzarella and romano cheese
- Salt and herbs to taste
- Adjust the amount of each ingredient to the size of your baking dish and the number of people you need to serve.
- Slice all the vegetables on the thinnest setting of the mandoline.
- Preheat the oven to 375 F. Spread the seasoned tomato sauce on the entire bottom surface of a baking dish (glass or ceramic).
- Layer the vegetables concentrically in the dish.
- Season however you'd like and bake it for 15 minutes. At this point, you can take it out and store it in the fridge for a few days.
- To finish baking, grate fresh mozzarella and romano over the top of the veggies. Bake another 10-15 minutes or until the veggies are soft, the sauce is bubbling, and the cheese is brown.