Loyal Statesman reader (and recipe clipper) Carlene Brady sent me an email a few weeks ago with her recipe for ratatouille, the rustic French dish made popular by the Disney movie of the same name that came out 10 years ago this summer.
Like many fans of the movie, Brady wanted to make a version of the dish at home, but all the recipes she found didn’t look like the carefully assembled, layered one that Remy, the charming rat who loves to cook, makes for Ego, the restaurant critic.
“Amazingly, during a high school reunion a few years ago in my old hometown in Ohio, I happened to pick up a copy of the local paper and there it was! A recipe specially created based on the cartoon version,” she wrote via email. “This recipe is eminently tweakable. The original recipe calls for eggplant, but I don’t like eggplant and don’t use it, and I Southwesternized it with the seasonings, etc. Sometimes I add poblano peppers. The important thing is to try to buy the veggies with roughly the same diameter so they will layer evenly.”
2 (14.5 oz. cans) diced tomatoes
1/3 onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
One small packet Goya cilantro-achiote seasoning
2 yellow squash
1 red, orange or yellow bell pepper
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pour diced tomatoes, onion, garlic and 1 tablespoon olive oil into 9-inch round baking dish.
Add salt and pepper to taste and about 2/3 of the Goya seasoning. Mix well. Use a mandoline to slice all the veggies about 1/16-inch thick, discarding the cores and ends. Arrange all the slices on top of the tomato mixture in a concentric circle starting from the outer edge, working in, overlapping them.
Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and sprinkle a little salt, pepper and the remaining 1/3 Goya seasoning over the top. Cover the vegetables with parchment paper, cutting to match the shape of the inside of the baking dish.
Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until the veggies are cooked but not soggy. Remove from the oven when the tomato mixture is bubbling but before the veggies get brown around the edges.
— Carlene Brady