The Farmer’s Table – Ratatouille

If you’ve traveled through France, there’s one dish that keeps popping up on every menu – Ratatouille.
Essentially, this dish is a vegetable stew, however, every small Provencal town will have a slightly different version of it. My recent trip to the farmer’s market inspired me to cook my own version of the classic French dish. I chose the perfect aubergine, white onion and carrots to add to items I already had in the fridge. On my walk home, I was thinking about the animated film appropriately named “‘Ratatouille” . One of my favorite and inspirational chefs, Thomas Keller, of the French Laundry restaurant in Yountville, California was hired by Pixar to be a consultant for the movie and the items on the menu. It’s said that the characteristics of Remy, the rat hero of the film, are very similar to that of Chef Keller’s. They are both passionate about food and meticulous when preparing a dish. Remy is persistent in following his dream of becoming a chef in spite of his appearance. His determination and ability to overcome obstacles to pursue his dream is very inspiring. The final dish in the movie is ratatouille but modernized by Chef Keller to resemble confit byaldi, a Turkish dish with similar ingredients. This dish is elegant because the main vegetables (tomato,aubergine,zucchini) are thinly sliced and placed in a circular pattern. I will prepare this version for a future meal but for now, here is how my ratatouille turned out.

Ingredients:

1 plump aubergine (or eggplant)
1 yellow zucchini
1 green zucchini
1 sweet,white onion
2 carrots
3 red,ripe tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon honey
2 bay leafs, 1 sprig of thyme
salt and pepper / stock

Cut all the vegetable in a similar size, here I have diced them but you can slice them in rounds as well.
In a pan or heavy casserole, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pot.
Saute onion and aubergine until slightly brown.
Add tomatoes,carrots,yellow and green zucchini. Stir for a few minutes then add honey, tomato paste and herbs. Add a 1/4 cup water or stock and simmer for 40 minutes. Add more liquid if needed.
Season accordingly.
Ratatouille can be served as a side dish or a main meal, added to a crepe , rice or Israeli  cous-cous.
I make a large batch and store it in the fridge, any leftovers get turned into a delicious ratatouille soup.

© 2011 Ann Ivy Male


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