I’ve yet to find another individual, foodie or otherwise, who didn’t enjoying watching Pixar’s Ratatouille. This clever tale of a rat that aspires to become a chef is a classic hero story with a lot of smart, careful cooking details tossed in. The main character Remy is a rat living in France whose refined palate and cooking knowledge lead him down a culinary path to Paris. With the help of his human counterpart, Linguine, Remy cooks his way through some of the most traditionally classic French dishes known to Le Cordon Bleu graduates. But ratatouille, the dish on which the plot (and title) of this movie rests, is the most significant dish of all.
Ratatouille in its traditional form is a stewed vegetable dish originating from the Provençal region of France. Though riffed many times over, the most widely known version includes tomato, zucchini, pepper, onion and eggplant. For Pixar’s version, Director Brad Bird and Producer Brad Lewis reached out to none other than acclaimed chef Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se) to develop the iconic dish. In Keller’s version, steamed, roasted vegetables are layered upon pipérade–a reduction of peppers, onion, tomatoes and garlic–and garnished with vinaigrette.
This recipe from yommme is based off of the very same ratatouille shown in the final scenes of the movie, mimicking the same dish that earned the previously failing restaurant a stunning review.
- 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 of the 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 eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and red pepper. Make the slices thin, about 1/8’ (3mm) thick. The thinner, the better!
- Make mini-stacks of the slices in sequence: Eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, red pepper. Eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, red pepper, etc. 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.