Friday, August 15, 2014

Pixar-esque Ratatouille & Ratatouille Subs

Before we really get started, I have to mention that this is an eggplant-free zone. I don't like it, and nothing you can say to me or do to it will change my mind. Sorry.

That said, I love ratatouille! Provided that you omit the eggplant.
You could easily add eggplant into this recipe, if it's non-negotiable for you. Find a long, skinny one, about the same circumference as the squash you use.

I'm glad to know I wasn't the only one completely enchanted by Pixar's tian-style interpretation of this classic French dish. When I saw this version on Smitten Kitchen, and again later in her awesome cookbook, I knew it would be happening in a kitchen near me. Soon.

I've done ratatouille in the crockpot, and with stuffed shells, but this might be my favorite way to enjoy it. The presentation is wonderful for a Sunday supper or for when company will be joining you. It's lovely.

I use my mandolin slicer to get  uniformly-thick slices of zucchini and yellow squash. Then it's just a matter of layering things to make them pretty. And, honestly, it's not as much trouble as you might think.

Serve it over couscous or egg noodles and you've got dinner.

But even better than that, when it's layered this way, it holds together perfectly as the filling for a completely delicious vegetarian sub sandwich! Just pile it onto your favorite kind of roll, toasted, naturally. I like to add the zing of fresh tomato to round out the roastiness of the ratatouille filling. And, of course, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. You could spread your bun with goat cheese, instead, if that's appealing to you.
(This might or might not also be a goat-cheese-free zone... But that's the great thing about cooking at home, you get to decide what to include!)

Pixar-esque Ratatouille
adapted from Smitten Kitchen

1/2 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. tomato puree (such as Pomi)
1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow squash, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
a few sprigs fresh thyme or summer savory, stripped from stems and finely chopped
Salt and pepper
drizzle of olive oil
Parmesan cheese for serving

In a small bowl, combine the onion, garlic, tomato puree, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Spread in the bottom of a 2 quart greased oval baking pan (mine's Corningware). On top of this mixture, start layering your veggies: zucchini slice, yellow squash slice, red pepper slice, repeat.

For prettiest presentation, follow the curve of the baking dish, making kind of a spiral. It would also be pretty in straight rows, alternating the direction of the layers on each row. Sprinkle with chopped thyme or savory, season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and place in the oven.

Bake uncovered at 375ยบ for 45 - 50 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, but not so long that they become mushy.

At this point, you have some options. You could serve this as is over couscous or pasta with a sprinkle of Parmesan, or you could take it one awesome step further: make it into the filling for a fantastic sub sandwich. It is hardly any more effort and it is so truly satisfying.

Ratatouille Subs

Extra Ingredients:
1 fresh tomato (I like a good beefsteak), sliced however thickly you like them for sandwiches
4 hoagie rolls or other buns of your choice, split and toasted (a baguette would even work nicely, if you can manage all that crustiness)
Parmesan cheese or goat cheese

Open up your bun and scoop some of the ratatouille into it. Sprinkle on some Parmesan, and top with slices of fresh tomato. Add the top of your bun, and enjoy! If you prefer, you could also spread the top bun with a smattering of tangy goat cheese instead of the Parm.

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