Cheater’s Ratatouille

I feel weird calling this dish “Ratatouille” because the real French version is way more complex than what I threw together for dinner tonight.  I’ve actually had a lot of different kinds of ratatouille – some that are more like a saucy stew and some made from chunks of vegetables seasoned with Herbes de Provence.  All pretty darn tasty.  Well, tonight I was inspired by Remy from the Pixar film, Ratatouille.  Even in cartoon form, the ratatouille that little rat makes looks so delectable and is so beautiful that I decided to try my hand at this art.  The way the perfectly sliced veggies sit in such a gorgeous stack really blows my mind.  I mean seriously how does he get the vegetables to look like that?  Ha!  So below you will find my humble human version which was so good I almost ate it all myself.

Oh and if you are one of the lucky people who own a mandoline, this dish will be a breeze.  I, however, do not (they scare me) so I did all the slicing by hand which wasn’t too horrible since I only made a small batch and used a baking dish about 9″ x 6.5″ in size.  This dish is all about the assembly and is sans sauce, also unlike traditional ratatouille.  Also, I should add that I regretfully did not have any eggplant on hand (which is I’m sure a sacrilege in the ratatouille world) but if you happen to have (or remember to buy) a small Japanese eggplant, you should slice it up and add it to the mix.

Cheater’s Ratatouille (makes 2 main or 4 side-dish servings)

You’ll need:

  • 1 yellow squash, sliced into very thin rounds
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into very thin rounds
  • 3 baby bell peppers, seeds removed and sliced into thin rounds
  • 3 tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 TBSP fresh oregano, chopped
  • small bit of basil leaves, cut into chiffonade (very thin strips) for garnish

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a small baking dish, I used 9″ x 6.5″, drizzle enough extra virgin olive oil to completely coat the bottom.  Then start layering your veggies in a semi upright position.  I found that if you hold the dish at an angle with one hand it will keep your stacks upright while you add in each veggie.  I added the veggies in this order but it really is up to you: yellow squash, baby bell pepper, tomato, zucchini.  I was able to fit 3 rows of veggies in my dish.  Next, drizzle each row with a little more extra virgin olive oil, season generously with salt and pepper and the thyme and oregano.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes or until veggies are still a little firm and not mushy.  To serve, use 2 slotted spatulas to lift out each serving of stacked vegetables (there will be some water left in the bottom of the dish, that’s ok.)  Top each serving with a little extra sea salt and a little bit of basil.

This would taste delicious on a bed of whole wheat couscous or quinoa however I will admit I had mine with a slice of whole wheat Tuscan bread (from Trader Joe’s) slathered in goat cheese…amazing.

I hope you enjoy this beautiful and easy dish!

this is what it looks like before going in the oven!

check out Remy’s work of art!

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