Ratatouille

Today, I am reviewing Disney’s animated film “Ratatouille”. Actually, no I’m not. When one sees this word, it is usually associated with the movie. And if you saw the movie, you can see that they actually made the Ratatouille dish.

Traditionally, ratatouille is a stew. I’m not a big fan of soggy eggplants so I decided to do as the movie did, and made it into a roasted vegetable dish, full of color. For added texture and complexity, I took the “topping” part from another recipe and added it into this one. However, I screwed up…more on that later.


I prepped my topping ingredients first.

With everything carefully measured for the first part, I was ready to toast the slivered almonds. I set the burner to medium heat on a dry pan with almonds constantly moving to avoid burning. This step is essential to allow the oils to come out of almonds to give it that more almond flavor.


Next, was to add the olive oil, the red chili pepper flakes and the garlic and sauté them all together. Remove from the burner and set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, while the almonds are cooling off, I started on the tomato sauce. This tomato sauce is called the pipérade which can be a side dish of it’s own. But in this ratatouille dish, it serves as the bed for the vegetables.

To make the pipérade, I used a 28oz can of peeled tomatoes, strained out the juices for later use and crushed the tomatoes.


Next, I diced an onion, diced the crushed tomatoes, and couple cloves of garlic and busted out my stash of bay leaves.


All of this goes into a pot along with the reserved tomato liquid, salt and pepper. I stirred a little to distribute the ingredients and then basically left it simmering.


By this time, my almond mixture has cooled and ready to go into my mortar.


I used the pestle to crush the almonds until they are little bits. This was one of the fun parts. Hulk Smash!


These next steps are what makes the topping so Greek. This is the time to add the basil, green olives and feta cheese. I absolutely love the feta cheese from Trader Joe’s that is sitting in brine because it is made of sheep’s milk. I’ve had feta cheese that was made from cow’s milk and it just tastes strange to me.


I cut my basil chiffonade.


Sliced the green olives, and manually crumbled the feta cheese and mixed it together with the almonds.


And our topping is done.


By this time, the pipérade is done and I spread the sauce on the bottom of my serving tray. I set this off to the side while I slice up the vegetables.


For my vegetables, I have Japanese eggplants, red bell peppers, zucchinis, and roma tomatoes.


I sliced each of the vegetables as thinly as I could.

Mistake #1 – I peeled the eggplants. If you are looking for color in your dish, leave the skin on as that purple color gives a nice contrast against the reds of the tomatoes and bell peppers.


I placed each of the slice vegetables on top and around the piperade in alternating fashion and stick it in the oven for an hour at 400 F.

Mistake #2 – I forgot to drizzle the vegetables with olive oil and salt and pepper. No wonder it didn’t roast properly…

Mistake #3 – There wasn’t enough pipérade compared to the amount of vegetable placed on top. I think the size of the serving tray I put it in was too big.


Ratatouille plated. La fin.

My personal verdict was that I wasn’t happy with the final product because of the mistakes I made along the way. However, I thought the topping was very tasty and I can just eat that by itself. I think for next time, I’ll fix the mistakes listed above and try to slice the vegetables thinner. But I’m happy that people still enjoyed it 🙂

Topping
1 cup slivered almonds
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon red chili flakes
1 garlic clove, chopped
1/3 block of Trader Joe’s Authentic Feta Cheese in brine
1 cup green olives, sliced
¾ cup basil, chiffonade
salt and pepper

Original recipe from Tyler Florence on Food Network
http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/ratatouille-with-feta-green-olives-and-almonds-recipe/index.html

Pipérade
28-oz can of whole tomatoes, chopped, liquid reserved
1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
a dash of dried thyme and cumin

Vegetables
2 Japanese eggplants, sliced
2 red bell peppers, sliced
5 roma tomates, sliced
2 zucchinis, sliced
extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Original recipe from Tiny Urban Kitchen
http://www.tinyurbankitchen.com/2009/08/ratatouille.html

– Max
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