Many of us have come to know this adorable sounding dish Ratatouille from the hugely successful Pixar animation movie of the namesake. The cooking rat has indeed captured the hearts of many. I bet the sales of eggplants, red capsicums and zucchini went sky high following the release of the movie. And I am guilty of rushing to the kitchen to reproduce the said dish. The first time though, I swapped the Zucchini for Cucumbers thinking they were pretty much the same thing (zucchini was not on my favourite list back then), so the stew turned out to be a little, uh… strange tasting. Of course, I’ve come a long way since then and have now become a zucchini convert.
Ratatouille is in fact, a traditional (and humble) French Provençal stewed vegetable dish which is often served as a side dish. The silkiness of eggplant, the slightly crunchy texture of zucchini (be careful not to let it go mushy), the tender sweet red capsicum, all rounded up in a rich tomato flavour permeated by fragrance of thyme. What’s not to love? Serve it with steaks, grilled fish or chicken, or keep it vegetarian like I did, serving it with Quinoa. The colourful dish will not only help your appetite (we eat with our eyes too, after all) , it’s also incredibly good for you.
1 eggplant, roughly diced
1 zucchini, roughly diced
1 red capsicum, sliced
3 tomatoes, roughly diced
1 onions, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
salt and pepper
1 cup quinoa
2 cup vegetable stock, plus a little more if needed for the ratatouille
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the eggplant and cook, turning occasionally for five minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and remove the eggplant from the skillet.
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the skillet and add the zucchini pieces. Cook for about five minutes, turning occasionally, then season with salt and pepper and remove from the skillet.
Repeat the process for red capsicum.
Heat 2 more tablespoons olive oil in a pan on medium heat and add the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.
Add the garlic, tomatoes and the pre-cooked vegetables: eggplant, zucchini, and red capsicum. Stir to combine and then add the bay leaf and thyme. Cover and cook on low heat for 30 minutes. Check for taste and season further if needed. Adding some vegetable stock or water if it’s drying out too much.
While the vegetables are cooking, cook the Quinoa in vegetables stock for about 20 mins or until all stock is absorbed. Set aside.
To serve, arrange a bed of Quinoa on a plate and topped with the Ratatouille.
Variation: Naughty Ratatouille with addition of bacon and white wine. Also fabulous. To make it a main meal, you could add some beans to bulk it up. Oh and by the way, mine was of course served with a good dash of cayenne pepper. Customize it anyway you like!
I’d love to watch Ratatouille again! Must hunt for the DVD soon.