Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ratatouille, Disney-Style

Anyone can cook.  Those three words define the Disney movie Ratatouille.  As someone with a love of cooking, it seems only natural that I would also love the movie about a rat who can cook in a famous and fancy French restaurant.  I have watched that movie several times, and, each time, I become particularly entranced with the scenes where the characters are actually cooking.  Now, I am not sure whether I am prepared to make Sweetbreads a la Gustauve, but I did decide to try making Ratatouille in the style that Remy did to win over the critic Ego.

It helps to have a recipe and I found a recipe for Ratatouille, Disney Style on Allrecipes.  This recipe begins with an immediate problem, one that is never addressed in the movie itself.  The recipe calls for the use of eggplants, red bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, and zucchini.  All of these ingredients will make a fine ratatouille; however, the key to the Disney ratatouille is ensuring that the individual slices are all the same size.  If you go back and watch the movie, as I did when I made this dish, the slices are identical in size.  This makes for great Hollywood, but it presents an obstacle in a real kitchen.  To overcome this obstacle, I cut the bell pepper slices in half and arranged them in a way that it appeared they were the same size as the eggplant. I also used two slices of zucchini in an effort to make it appear larger than it really was.

These modifications worked, to a certain extent.  However, the final product did not look anything like the ratatouille in the kitchen.  The end result was still a very eye-pleasing array of colors that could be somewhat stacked on a plate for service.  The dollop of marscapone at the end adds a richness to the dish that would otherwise be lacking.  

Recipe from All Recipes
Serves 4-6

1 can of tomato paste (6 ounces)
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3/4 cup of water
1 small eggplant, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1 zucchini, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored and very thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons of olive or to taste
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves, or to taste
3 tablespoons of mascarpone cheese

1. Prepare the ratatouille.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spread the tomato paste into the bottom of a 10x10 baking dish. Sprinkle with onion and garlic and stir in 1 tablespoon olive oil and water until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and black pepper. Arrange alternating slices of eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red bell pepper, and yellow bell pepper, starting at the outer edge of the dish and working concentrically towards the center. Overlap the slices a little to display the colors. Drizzle the vegetables with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with thyme leaves. Cover vegetables with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside.

2.  Bake the ratatouille. Bake in the preheated oven until vegetables are roasted and tender, about 45 minutes. Serve with dollops of mascarpone cheese.


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