Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Ratatouille; The Movie and the Dinner

Well, Monday night, we went to see the newest Pixar creation, "Ratatouille", which, if you've been living under a rock and haven't heard, is an animated movie about a little rat who loves to cook.

I loved it, as did my daughters. And as a vegan, I thought it was great that even with the plot based on a restaurant kitchen, and French food, they only had a couple minor shots of "meat" being cooked... Most of the time, the little rat was busy helping slice zucchini or mince garlic. Pretty cool! In the end, he whips up a dish of ratatouille that steals the show.
So on our way home, my Lil' Sprout asked if ratatouille was a "real" dish (when I was 7, I had never HEARD of ratatouille, and I'm sure I was 27 before I knew how to pronounce it!!) I assured her it was, and amazingly, it was even vegan!
She perked up and asked what was in it. (This is where I knew things could get tricky...) I said "usually um.... eggplant, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, bell peppers, garlic and basil." She wrinkled up her nose and said "eewww" - but in a rather disappointed sort of way.

Then she asked hopefully "Well, are those things in big chunks or mushed up so you can't see them?" (She knows I'm famous for "hiding" veggies). So I thought about it for a moment and said "Well, usually it's in chunks all cooked together. But I bet I could make some ratatouille that was NOT chunky... would you like that?"

Of course she would! She's pretty willing to try new things, but there are a few veggies she just does not like if they're "chunky". You have to admit, eggplant isn't a favorite with a lot of people so I can't argue there... It just figures - she'd try something because a little cartoon rat made it look good! Bless their little animated hearts if they get a kid eating eggplant, I say!!
So I took my basic ratatouille recipe and prepared the veggies as I always do (oven roasting the tomatoes, pepper, onion, garlic and eggplant). Then I pureed the roasted veggies into a thick (and heavenly!!) sauce. I mixed in the fresh herbs, garbanzos, and sauteed zucchini (fortunately Lil' Sprout LOVES those!!). Since it was thick and sauce-like, I served it with crispy pan-fried polenta slices. And it was a HUGE HIT! (eggplant, bell peppers and all...)

My oldest Sprout came home from work and ate the rest of the (non-chunky) ratatouille cold out of the pan. "Awesome pasta sauce, Mom!!" She's right. It would make awesome pasta sauce.

Roasted Veggie Ratatouille

1 lb eggplant, 1/2-inch dice
1/4 tsp salt
1 lb zucchini, chopped coarsely
1 red bell pepper, chopped coarsely
1 Walla Walla sweet onion, chopped coarsely
1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
1 lb Roma tomatoes, chopped coarsely
1/2 cup low sodium tomato sauce
2 TB red wine or 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
2 TB (or more) minced fresh garlic
3 TB (or more) minced fresh oregano
3 TB minced fresh basil
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked garbanzo beans
3 oz capers, (good for "adult food" but my kids hate 'em!)
Preheat oven to 400°F.

Dice eggplant first. Combine with salt, set aside in a colander to drain. Prepare remaining ingredients.
Rinse eggplant. Combine eggplant, tomatoes, onion and bell pepper, with olive oil. Place in roasting pan. Bake 45 minutes or until veggies are soft and starting to brown, stir once during cooking.
Meanwhile saute zucchini in a small bit of olive oil until tender crisp. Add garlic, wine, tomato sauce, pepper, garbanzos and fresh herbs. Keep warm at low simmer until roasted veggies are done.
**(I pureed the roasted veggies at this point - they were so rich and aromatic, I may do this more often!!)
Combine roasted veggies with zucchini mixture and serve with crusty bread.


Julia said...

We're going to see that. I hope I have the opportunity to use your recipe. My kids don't like chunks either. I've never had ratatouille, but it looks like something I would like.

Julie said...

YUM! I also want to see that movie.

Isabelle said...

Oh man... I am soooo going to try this recipe tonight. :D

Isabelle said...

Made it last night! Loved it!

Susan said...

Thank you so much for this recipe! My daughter came by while I was reading this post and got all excited about it, since we loved the movie, too. She said she wanted it right away, but then changed her mind when she started reading the ingredients. I pointed out that they would all be pureed, and told her we could serve the sauce over gnocchi, and she went back to being enthusiastic. Yeah! We are heading to the store now anyway, so I added the ingredients to my list. Thanks again!

textual bulldog said...

We just went and saw Ratatouille and it was so cute. Pixar always does such a good job... Your ratatouille looks delish. I've never had the real thing, but the movie makes me want to try it, and I'm never against hiding veggies!

Michelle said...

i want to take my kids to see that movie.. i'm glad you guys enjoyed it! i'm not a fan of regular ratatouille either (because of the eggplant), but i love love love Vive Le Vegan's chickpea ratatouille! it's my most favourite meal ever!

Veg-a-Nut said...

How cool is that. I am going to try this recipe for sure. Sounds delish. DH does not eat cooked veggies much, but in a sauce where he can't see them, that is the key. Thanks for sharing!