Recently after watching Disney/ Pixar’s movie Ratatouille where a rat, and the humans, learn that “anyone can cook”, my children asked for Ratatouille for dinner. Lucky for them, our kitchen was stocked with everything to make this most excellent dish. This dish does require time for prep work and then requires much more time to bake, so please be advised, this is not a quick-fix for dinner when time is limited. Having said that, really, everyone should try this!
1/2 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 c tomato puree (such as Pomi)
2 TBSP olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant
1 medium zucchini
1 medium squash
1 long red bell pepper
Sprigs of fresh tyme
Salt and pepper
Few TBSP of soft goat cheese (for serving)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval (I used rectangle) backing dish, approx. 10″ across the long way. Drop sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir one tablespoon of olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.
Trim the edges off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as possible, trim the ends off the red bell pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact (like a tube).
On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red bell pepper into very thing slices, approx. 1/ 16- 3/8- inch thick.
Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You will have a handful of leftovers that will not fit.
Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the vegetables and season hem generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves of thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish.
Cover the dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit (tricky, I know, but seriously, this is the HARDEST step of the whole recipe… not bad, right?).
Bake for approx. 45- 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.
Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French Bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain.