Layered Ratatouille

by Kornelia Santoro

Back from the holidays, I felt like tying up loose ends before the end of the year. One of these loose ends is layered Ratatouille, my recipe for this month.

When I watched the movie Ratatouille, I was astonished to see a beautifully layered dish.

I had known Ratatouille as tasty peasant food from the south of France. It originated in the area around Nice and its name means ‘tossing food’. You get the idea? The original used only zucchini, tomatoes and bell peppers. Later aubergines were added.

In the movie, Ratatouille looked very sophisticated. Ratatouille producer, Brad Lewis, had asked the American celebrity chef Thomas Keller, consultant for the movie, how he would prepare this dish if he had to serve it to the most famous food critic in his restaurant.

Keller suggested the layered Ratatouille. Of course, he fanned the vegetables with a palette knife and made two different sauces, one a pipérade (made from roasted peppers) and the other one a tomato sauce.

By the way, I love Pixar movies. Especially Ratatouille is closed to my heart; the rat with gourmet taste makes me smile every time.

As you know, I don’t aspire to serve Michelin star dishes in my kitchen. I decided to combine the pipérade and the tomato sauce and I arranged my vegetables by hand in layers. The result might not look as perfect as the Ratatouille in the movie – but it tastes and looks attractive enough for any dinner party.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow zucchini
  • 1 medium green zucchini
  • 3 medium aubergines
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 200 ml tomato puree
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Herbes de Provence
  • salt
  • pepper

Method:

To achieve an aesthetically pleasing result, you need to have vegetables with roughly the same diameter. I use differently coloured zucchini for effect. If you find only one colour, never mind. If you don’t have Herbes de Provence use any herbs you like. This mixture of dried herbs usually contains rosemary, thyme, oregano, savory and marjoram.

A normal Ratatouille contains bell peppers. Because you cannot layer bell peppers, I have included them in the sauce. Roast the bell peppers by holding them into a flame. They should darken all around and the skin should blister.

Place the roasted peppers into a bowl and cover them with cling film so they keep steaming while cooling down.

Rub away the darkened skin. You might need to rinse the bell peppers under water.

Clean them and blend the flesh to puree.

Mix the blended peppers with the tomato puree, the herbes de provence, two teaspoons salt, pepper and two tablespoons olive oil.

Wash and cut the zucchinis, the aubergines and the tomatoes into thin slices.

Spread the remaining olive oil over the bottom of a pie form.

Cover it with the tomato sauce. Arrange the slices on top of the sauce in a fanlike manner.

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the slices and bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for one hour.

Kornelia is a German food writer living in Goa, India, with her Italian husband and her son.  She has published two cookbooks, Kornelia’s Kitchen – Mediterranean Cooking for India and Kornelia’s Kitchen 2 – Cooking for Allergies. Both have won the Gourmand World Cookbook Award. All her recipes are easy, fast and delicious – the right kind of food to keep your family healthy and happy without spending too much time in the kitchen.

Kornelia-Santoro

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