What is ratatouille?
Ratatouille (rah-ta-too-wee) is a Provençal stew made with eggplant, zucchini, squash, tomato, onion, and bell pepper. It’s hard to believe that the vegetable dish, which originated in the south of France, was once known as a “poor man’s” food, considering how vegetables are not exactly cheap these days! (For instance, the yellow squash and zucchini I got recently were almost three dollars – each!)
Inspired by the Ratatouille movie
I’ll admit that I’d never even heard of the French dish before the 2007 Disney-Pixar animated film of the same name! It’s probably because I don’t like to eat vegetables. Or, it’s simply because I’m a Francophile who isn’t well-versed in French cuisine and gastronomy. (I’m working on changing that – Always keep learning, I say!)
American chef, Thomas Keller (of award-winning restaurants, like The French Laundry) served as a culinary advisor on the Ratatouille movie. He made a variation of the peasant stew using confit byaldi style by beautifully arranging thinly sliced vegetables in a baking pan or tray. Surely a dish that pretty must be difficult to make, I thought.
I like a challenge, so I decided to try my hand at making ratatouille like the one in the movie, which I played on the TV while I made the dish!
Here is my interpretation of ratatouille
Ingredients (makes about 6 servings)
1 yellow squash
2 Roma tomatoes
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 yellow onion
2 large cloves of garlic
2 T of olive oil
salt and pepper
- Heat the oven to 300°F / 149°C
- Slice the vegetables and tomatoes into coins
For the sauce:
- dice the bell pepper, onion, and garlic
- over medium heat, sauté them in a saucepan with salt, pepper, and a tablespoon of olive oil until they’re soft
- Place this sauce/mixture on the bottom of the baking dish
- Arrange the slices in a pattern (I did yellow squash, zucchini, tomato, and eggplant), then place them on top of the sauce/mixture in the baking dish
- Drizzle some olive oil and sprinkle more salt and pepper on the vegetables
- Bake for 90 minutes at 300°F / 149°C
Thank goodness the Ratatouille movie was on. The scene where Chef Colette places a piece of parchment over the vegetables instantly reminded me to do the same to keep them from burning or drying out! 🤦🏻♀️
Et voilà, ratatouille !
What a relief – the veggies didn’t dry out (too much)!
I like how it turned out. Simple salt and pepper brought out the natural flavors of each of the vegetables and the sweetness of the tomatoes. The only thing missing was some garnish. For next time, I think I’ll sprinkle some chopped sun-dried tomatoes or fresh basil before serving.
I love how ratatouille can be served hot or cold as either a main or side dish. Overall, I especially love how this simple, but tasty dish makes me want to eat more vegetables!