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Who remembers the 2007 movie Ratatouille? I watched it again recently on a rare wet and chilly summer night, snuggling into the story as much as a warm blanket. It's a classic, just like the classic French dish called "ratatouille" which the movie brought into the mainstream. (And taught a whole generation, perhaps two, how to pronounce the word. Can you say rat-uh-TOO-ee?) It's a sweet pleasure, made for laughing out loud during a movie for two or in a theater with a crowd.
Stacked Ratatouille, too. It's rare to find a recipe that feeds one or two as easily as it feeds a crowd.
Time to table: 40 minutes for only the Ratatouille, 1 hour including the Spinach
Serves as many as you like!
Asian eggplant (the long narrow ones)
Small yellow squash and/or zucchini
Oregano, preferably dried
Fresh spinach leaves, washed very well and tough stems removed, chopped
Salt & pepper to taste
Juice of a lemon (preserved lemon works too)
RATATOUILLE Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Fill three bowls with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Slice thin rounds of eggplant in one bowl, tomato in the second, squash in the third. Splosh these around, covering all sides with oil. (If you're making the spinach too, I'd recommend cleaning it now, letting the vegetable rounds soak in the oil for just a bit. But it's also fine to keep moving.) Create rows of the rounds, eggplant, tomato, squash; eggplant, tomato, squash; arrange in an oven-safe baking dish. Sprinkle with oregano. Bake for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are cooked through. Place the vegetables under the broiler for a minute or two or five, putting a slight "burn" on the tops.
SPINACH About 5 minutes before the Ratatouille is ready, cook the wet spinach in a hot skillet until just soft. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the lemon juice. Arrange atop the Ratatouille.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
The trick is to get vegetables about the same size, hence the Roma tomatoes which are about the right size when matched up with Asian eggplant and small summer squash.
We tried both fresh oregano and dried oregano – and preferred the dried which held its distinctive oregano flavor better when confronted with heat.
Why not use baby spinach? I know, I know, it's so convenient to buy bags of cleaned baby spinach! But baby spinach is so tender that it almost melts when it hits the heat. It's too tender! I've learned to really appreciate the sturdier spinach, both for taste and texture, if it's being cooked.
Could you use one bowl? I suppose. But three bowls separate the vegetables juices/flavors until they reach the oven.
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~ Ratatouille Omelettes ~
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