23 February 2010

"Anyone Can Cook"

This past Sunday, I spent the day with one of my favorite little people in the entire world, my hubby's youngest sister B. B is nine years old, loves the color purple, and has a knack for making me laugh at some of the silliest things. We always play games, we always tell each other stories, and we always have fun together (I've been in her life since she was almost a year old). She's a more shy, younger version of me!

When I first got to B's house, she decided that she wanted to play Monopoly. Now this wasn't just any Monopoly, this was the Disney-Pixar Monopoly! The gamepieces were Nemo, Buzz Lightyear, that red car from that car movie I didn't like, Mike & Sully, and Mr. Incredible! You can't go wrong witha  cast like that! But the best one of all (and the one I got to play as) was Remy from Ratatouille. There's just something about a movie that has the message "Anyone can cook" that just tugs at my little heart.

I can't tell you what initially made me fall in love with the movie. We all know that the thought of a rat preparing a meal would make even the strongest stomach gurgle in protest. I can tell you that now that my favorite part of the movie, and why I watch it over and over again and get a tear in my eye (hey don't judge me!), is near the end when the food critic takes his first bite of Remy's ratatouille and is transported back to his childhood. The feelings of comfort and home overwhelms the great Anton Ego into waiting hours to meet the chef who is from very humble origins himself.

Ratatouille is a comfort food, and lucky for me and my goal of trying to eat healthier, is fairly healthy. Of course because the hubby and I are meatatarians we did have some grilled chicken along with it. To round out our healthy dinner we had a small salad and a chunk of fresh bread with some goat cheese. I borrowed this lovely recipe from Deb over at Smitten Kitchen and for once did not feel the need to do a thing to to it. Enjoy!

Ratatouille's Ratatouille
Recipe by Smitten Kitchen

1/2 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
1 cup tomato puree
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 small eggplant
1 smallish zucchini
1 smallish yellow squash
1 longish red bell pepper
Few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
Few tablespoons soft goat cheese, for serving

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, approximately 10 inches across the long way. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.
  4. On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.
  5. Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.
  6. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish.
  7. Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. (Tricky, I know, but the hardest thing about this.)
  8. Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.
  9. Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain


Anonymous said...

What!!! you eat this stuff! you never ate this stuff when you were a kid!!!

Love ya, Mom

Leedslass said...

Your Mum's comment made me laugh - every mother, ALL OVER THE WORLD, must despair at the way their offspring change when they move away from home (particularly their eating habits).


Treasures By Brenda said...

Your Ratatouille looks yummy! I fell in love with this rat and this movie, too. The food was de-licious.

Honey Mim said...

Kinda like Proust and madeleines. Those are yummy by the way.