Ratatouille is such an iconic dish now after the Disney movie. I've made this various times now, and this is a great brunch and lunch dish that is generally impressive to bring to a pot luck. There is a bit of prep work, so this isn't really a throw-together dish after work. But it's a great way to get the week started by making this on the weekend!
Preparation Time: 30 minutes | Cooking Time: 30-45 minutes
2 whole bell peppers (we prefer red or orange)
1 can of diced or whole tomatoes (choose no salt added); (can also use fresh tomatoes, but requires some more prep work!)
2 bunches of Basil
3 sprigs of Thyme
1 tablespoon of Paprika
1 Thai Chili Pepper (or any spicy pepper you can find)
Salt and Pepper to taste
If you want the visual of the Ratatouille from the Disney film, try to choose zucchinis, eggplants, and tomatoes that have a similar diameter. This adds at least 15 minutes to your prep time though.
2 medium or 3 small zucchinis
2 or 3 long (Chinese) eggplants
4 small on-the-vine tomatoes or Romano tomatoes
Cast Iron or Oven-safe Pan
This can be done ahead of time, even 1-2 days as long as you keep it in the fridge
Half and de-seed bell peppers. Place inside face down on baking sheet lined with foil. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes until soft. Rest until cool enough to handle. Peel back skin using hands.
If not using canned tomatoes, blanch tomatoes to peel off skin. Boil water and cut a "cross" on the top of the tomato. Then place the tomatoes into the boiled water. When you see the peel start to peel back/wrinkle, take the tomatoes out and place in cold water or ice bath, so that it is cool enough to handle.
This is optional. If you don't care about visuals, try cutting this into 1.5" cubes. Cutting them larger will mean the cooking time will be longer.
Use a mandolin to thinly slice zucchini, eggplants. I find that with tomatoes, it's best to use a knife to thinly slice as it provides better control.
Be careful using a mandolin! A trick is to use a fork to "stab" the vegetable (especially rounded, hard, vegetables like radishes) to reduce the risk of slicing your fingers!
Starting with the Piperade sauce, cook together the peeled whole peppers, canned tomatoes (blanched and peeled tomatoes if using fresh), basil, and thyme.
Cut chili pepper in half and de-seed. Toss into Piperade sauce mixture. Salt and pepper to taste. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Pull out the Thyme and whole chili pepper.
Optional: for a smooth sauce, place cooked Piperade into a blender or hand blender to smooth out.
On the cast iron or oven-safe pan, lay down a thick layer of Piperade sauce. move the pan forward and back quickly, or tap on counter lightly to flatten sauce.
Place slices of tomato, zucchini, and eggplant in a snack pattern around the place, standing up.
Fold the parchment paper into 4's, then into a cone shape by folding the two corners left and right of corner that is the middle of the paper onto itself. Measure the folded cone along the radius of your pan and cut the outer part of the cone. Cut out the small corner in the tip of the cone to allow a hole when unfolded for steam to escape.
Unfold trimmed parchment paper and place on top of sliced vegetables in pan to reduce browning (for visual look)
Bake in oven at 375°F for 30 minutes, or until vegetables softened. If you like crunchier vegetables, bake for a shorter amount of time.