Ratatouille: much easier to make than spell

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The first recipe I made from the cookbook was Ratatouille or as Mark calls it “Baked Mixed Vegetables with Olive Oil” (pp. 380-81).  The decision to make this was largely driven by ingredients.  I went to the Union Square Greenmarket yesterday and picked up a bunch of vegetables: 3 different kinds of Asian baby eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, fresh red onions…, in other words, perfect stuff for Ratatouille.

As far as recipes go, this one is very flexible and easy to do.  Pretty much, as long as you have good vegetables and enough olive oil, it will be tasty.

Ingredients I Used:

3 small eggplants (white, pale purple, dark purple)

2 zucchini

1/2 yellow bell pepper and 1/2 red bell pepper

1 fresh red onion

half a head of garlic, peeled and halved

6 slightly bigger than cherry size tomatoes

1/2 cup of olive oil (this seemed like a lot to me but that’s what Mark said)

salt and pepper to taste

How I Made It

Mark suggests salting the eggplants and so I did:  cut them up into half-inch thick chunks, stuck them in a collander and threw some kosher salt on top.  They sat like that for about an hour while I went out for drinks with some friends.  Then as I preheated the oven to 350, I cut everything else into equally-sized chunks, threw it into a 9×13 Pyrex dish, poured on the olive oil, tossed, salt-&-peppered. No fancy layers for me (as Mark suggests or as we all saw in the movie).  It went into the oven for an hour.

Meanwhile, I boiled some water and steamed corn on the cob.  We had it, at Mark’s suggestion (pp. 288-290), buttered with grated Parmesan and chili pepper.  You can see everything together in the picture.  Next time, I will also photograph all the ingredients before they get dispatched to make the dish.

Making it vegan:

Obviously, this is pretty easy to make vegan: just skip the butter and the Parm.  Butter is easy enough to replace with your vegan margarine of choice.  Parm is a bit more difficult:  I hear that there are vegan Parm substitutes out there but I’m not much for soy cheese.  I think the best “real food” alternative would be some chopped nuts (pine nuts seem like they would be great) or seeds (mmm… sunflower).

P.S.  I promise my food photography will improve. I was really hungry.

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