Anyone can cook! - Ratatouille
For the better half of July, I've been stuck in a torpor - the weather here in Baltimore alternates between sunny skies to a maelstorm of heavy rain; the summer course I'm taking, Discrete Mathematics, constantly stupefies me with proofs and theorems, and my injured hand has rendered me pretty much incapacitated. I haven't been able to properly lift and dance due to my injury, but at the same time, I haven't been able to let it heal either since I have to always write and take notes, which works the tendons and the wrist in my hand.
However, I haven't allowed these debilitating circumstances to completely sap my motivation to try new things and be productive with what little free time I have. This weekend, I made Confit Byaldi, which is a stylized version of the french dish, Ratatouille, that inspired the movie movie, "Ratatouille" (Quite a mouthful to type out)! I made this dish for a friend's birthday, who was vegan, and being that I never cooked without meat before, I thought this would be really fun to try.
The specific recipe I used was Bruno Albouze's Ratatouille Casserole Dish, which I liked very much. If someone like me, who has had very little cooking experience, can make it look good, you can probably too!
A text version of his recipe if you want to copy/paste:
- 1 onion, peeled, and chopped
- 2 carrots, washed, unpeeled, and chopped
- 1 Tbsp butter and olive oil (if you’re making this for your vegan friend, don’t use butter!)
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- 1 yellow and 1 red bell pepper, charred, peeled, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 poblano pepper and 2 chili peppers, charred, peeled, seeds and ribs removed
- 1 can crushed tomato
- 1 tsp herbes de Provence
- salt, pepper to taste
- 6 fresh basil leaves, minced
- 2 yellow squash, sliced in 1/16-in. rounds
- 2 zuccihinis (green sqaush), sliced in 1/16-in. rounds
- 2 Japanese or Chinese eggplants, sliced in 1/16-in. rounds
- 6 roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-in. rounds
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tsp minced garlic
- 1 Tsp thyme leaves, chopped
- salt pepper to taste
The video explains everything. Follow it, and you'll be golden. Here are just some tips that I would have found very helpful on my first attempt:
- If you don’t have a gas stove, you can roast your peppers by putting it in the oven at 500 C for 40 minutes, which will also char your vegetables nicely.
- The size of the pan I used was only 9 inches in diameter, and I used 1 yellow squash, 1 zuccihini, 1 eggplant, and 3 roma tomatos, with lots of leftover slices to spare!
- Make sure you get all of your vegetables to almost the exact same diameter! If your eggplant is just a little bit bigger, you won’t be able to make the beautiful fan.
I had a lot of fun making Ratatouille, and its colorful pattern and vibrant taste makes pretty great to bring to a party. I think what made this dish really stand out was the Piperade Mixture; It had a strong, spicy taste on its own, while also packed with flavor from the tomatoes. When roasted underneath the sliced vegetables, everything caramelized altogether, and it made eating these vegetables a treat. I've never been a fan of eggplant or zuccihini, but after making this, I'm going to be rethinking my old diet of chicken, curry, steamed bok choy, and Chipotle.
This dish was a great wake up call to an overall lethargic July. I would love to make this again if given the time, and I hope you can share this recipe as well!