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Ratatouille

Colorful Dinner

This could be one of the most colorful dish that I have ever made and preparing this dish turned out to be a quite tedious job. But I swear to all of my pans and all the flour in my kitchen… Despite of the fact that this dish has more vegetables than my monthly vegetables quota..and I love meat more than anything … I LOVE this dish.

It’s sweet, it’s tasty, it’s sophisticated but also homey. I could eat this alone with a plain toast. The veggies still has a bit of texture, but soft at the same time. My vegetable-hater-of-a-husband even asked for more.. this is the first time he actually liked my non meat dish (he ate all those zucchini). He asked me to make the dish again soon.. :).. in short.. you gotta like it!

Ratatouille with Ham and Cheese Toast (recipe adapted from here)

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Things you need:

For the base:

  • 1/2 Red Pepper – skinned
  • 1/2 Yellow Pepper – skinned
  • 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tsp Minced Garlic
  • 1/2 cup diced Yellow Onion
  • 3 Tomatoes  – skinned
  • Thyme
  • Italian Parsley
  • Bay leaf – 1/2 piece

For the vegetables:

  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 Japanese eggplant
  • 1 Yellow squash
  • 4 Roma Tomato
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • Thyme
  • Salt pepper to taste

Things you need to do :

For the base. Put oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet/pan over low heat. Cook until very soft, careful not to burnt/browned them.
Add in tomatoes, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, do not brown. Add peppers and salt to taste, and discard herbs.
Reserve 3 tablespoons of base and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch oven-safe dish/pan.
Note: For the herbs -> use your taste bud to measure the right amount 😉 – normally i will put it bit by bit and taste the food before i decided to add more.

For the vegetables. Heat the oven to 130 C. Cut the zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash and tomato to thin slices. You can use your mandolin (if you have), to get an even cut. As for me i cut it manually – i like the traditional way :D.

Putting it all together. Starting from center of your pan/dish, arrange a strip of 8 alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that ¼ inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Continue until pan is filled.

Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle over vegetables. Cover the dish/pan with foil and seal it well. Bake until the vegetables are tender ( for about 1-2 hour) – you can test it with your knife. Uncover the pan and bake for another 30 mins (you can lightly cover with foil if it start to brown). If there is excess liquid in pan, continue to cook it on stove over medium heat until reduced.

As for me, I like the vegetable to still have abit  of texture (not too soft), so i heat the oven to 150 C, it took for about 1 hour to do the first bake and another 10 mins to bake without the cover.

Serve the dish with  the reserve base and toasted baguette (or even a roasted herb chicken or grilled fish :D)

For my case, i mould the vegetable using  my ring mould and serve it with garlic toasted – ham and cheese ciabatta bread. The contrast between the crunchy bread and the soft vegetables creates a symphony in your mouth. This is really a great dish for your dinner. Happy cooking!

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