Wednesday, 1 August 2012

ITTP TEFL Prague: Ratatouille

(Click on photo to enlarge)
If you have seen the Pixar film Ratatouille then you will know all about this French recipe and this is a wonderfully simple and versatile one. For any vegetarians reading this, the good news for you is that this dish doesn't include any meat whatsoever. The thing I loved about making this dish is that it was really affordable - I picked up fresh produce at the Farmer's market in Dejvicka on Saturday, making the meal on Monday - and this dish was much easier and much less time-consuming than what I had anticipated. Also, the food looks great on the plate and if you are cooking for your significant other then this dish will wow in subtle and humble brilliance in a similar way that taking a piece of broken glass and holding it up to the sun will reflect out the pure radiance of light. If you have also seen the film then you will know that Ratatouille was a traditional peasant dish, but unlike the film my dish was created with human hands and not by the toil and trouble of approx a thousand rats. The other bonus with this dish is that you can swap around ingredients, depending on what time of year it is and what's in season.

Half an onion
2 garlic cloves
1 cup of tomato puree or tomato paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small eggplant
1 large zucchini (or 2 small ones)
2 large red plum tomatoes (or just ordinary ones if you can't find plum)
2 large yellow plum tomatoes (or just ordinary ones if you can't find plum)
Note: a tomato is a fruit but for the sake of this recipe will be labeled as a vegetable.
A few sprigs fresh thyme
Salt and pepper


Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celcius (375 degrees Fahranheit).

Tomato paste in baking dish (Click on photo to enlarge)

Spoon the tomato paste onto the bottom of a baking dish.

Garlic, onion, olive oil and seasoning added to mixture (Click on photo to enlarge)

Thinly slice your garlic cloves and finely chop your half onion, adding both to the dish.
Stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the mixture with salt and pepper.

Sliced vegetables added to dish (Click on photo to enlarge)

Next, cut the ends of your vegetables.
Thinly slice the vegetables and arrange them on top of the mixture in the dish.
Take the sprigs of Thyme and remove the leaves and sprinkle onto the vegetables.
Add the remaining tablespoon of the olive oil and also season with salt and pepper.

Baking paper covering the dish (Click on photo to enlarge)

Take some baking paper and cut it so that it forms the exact shape of the dish. Place the paper on top of the dish, covering the vegetables. Place the dish in the preheated oven and cook for 50 minutes.

Dish after baking and with paper removed - and a portion of the food removed too for the plating up (Click on photo to enlarge)

Serve up on the plate in whichever way you see fit and experience the joy of simplicity which this dish brings to your senses.

Preparation Tip:

If you are using other types of vegetables, try and remember to alternate the colors so that the dish retains that look of dark and light sequences.

Pimp it up:

This dish can definitely be pimped up by improving on the tomato mixture base. If I had more time I would have chopped up some celery, onions, garlic and tomatoes and added seasoning and then would have placed them into a food processor to create an actual tomato sauce base.
Also, I served up the dish on its own but a few slices of a French baguette would have been great.

Hope it helps!

Dobrou chut!/Bon appetit!

Neville :-)