Ever since we watched the brilliant Pixar movie "Ratatouille", I knew I had to make it! Traditionally, ratatouille is a peasant vegetable "stew", but honestly, Thomas Keller's adaptation of this dish (a tian) has taken this to a new level. Simple healthy ingredients, impressive looking and absolutely satisfying. It's nice to try to buy all the vegetables the same diameter (easier to stack and layer), which is why I specify an Asian eggplant/aubergine. It's only because they are skinnier, but any one will work. You'll find that just a few veggies goes a long way. This is one of my all-time favorite dishes to prepare with children of any age!
2-3 fresh tomatoes, pureed with a pinch of sea salt
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
3 tsp fresh thyme, basil, parsley, and/or oregano, finely chopped
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 Asian eggplant/aubergine
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow/summer squash
2-3 small plum tomatoes
1⁄2 red bell pepper, deseeded
Sea salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. Pour tomato puree, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and half ofthe chopped fresh herbs into a baking dish. Stir in the chopped shallot and garlic.Season with salt and pepper.
Using a mandolin, or a really sharp knife, thinly and evenly, slice the vegetables. Make the slices thin, about 1/8’ (3mm) thick. The thinner, the better!
Make mini-stacks of about 20 slices in sequence. Arrange a few stacks at a time into the prepared baking dish in a concentric spiral from the outer edge to the inside, fanning them out a bit so that you can see the top 1/8” of all the slices. “Stand” them up a little, so you can it as many vegetable slices in as possible, but you may still have some leftover veggies. Save the smaller rounds for the center of the dish.
Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and season with more salt and pepper. Sprinkle the remaining chopped herbs. Cover the dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to it just inside the dish rim, directly on top of the vegetable arrangement.
Bake for 40 minutes -1 hour (depending on how thick your vegetable slices are), until vegetables are soft, but not limp. Serve this impressive dish with pride! ;)