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One of my favorite movies as a child, and still today, is the movie Ratatouille. Not only did I love the storyline, but my favorite scene was when all the rats and the chefs were making the dish ratatouille. At the time I had never eaten ratatouille and wasn't quite sure what was in it, but I knew that whatever was in it looked just mouth watering. I mean even " " was having intense childhood flashbacks just from one bite. My idea to make this came up when I was thinking about themes for my next club meeting, and I decided on french. This dish popped right into my mind, along with madeline, and then the thought of playing the movie while we cooked the dish. I don't know what's more perfect, I mean watching Ratatouille, and making it at the same time is quite the experience. Ratatouille is a great dish to impress you friends or family, simply make the dish and serve it over a grain, I used quinoa, top it with goat cheese, and you have a fantastic dinner that everyone will love. \

What you need:

  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced

  • 1 cup tomato puree (such as Pomi)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

  • 1 small eggplant (my store sells these “Italian Eggplant” that are less than half the size of regular ones; it worked perfectly)

  • 1 smallish zucchini

  • 1 smallish yellow squash

  • 1 longish red bell pepper

  • Few sprigs fresh thyme

  • Salt and pepper

  • Few tablespoons soft goat cheese, for serving

What to do:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Pour tomato puree into bottom of an oval baking dish, approximately 10 inches across the long way. Drop the sliced garlic cloves and chopped onion into the sauce, stir in one tablespoon of the olive oil and season the sauce generously with salt and pepper.

Trim the ends off the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash. As carefully as you can, trim the ends off the red pepper and remove the core, leaving the edges intact, like a tube.

On a mandoline, adjustable-blade slicer or with a very sharp knife, cut the eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash and red pepper into very thin slices, approximately 1/16-inch thick.

Atop the tomato sauce, arrange slices of prepared vegetables concentrically from the outer edge to the inside of the baking dish, overlapping so just a smidgen of each flat surface is visible, alternating vegetables. You may have a handful leftover that do not fit.

Drizzle the remaining tablespoon olive oil over the vegetables and season them generously with salt and pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs with your fingertips, running them down the stem. Sprinkle the fresh thyme over the dish.

Cover dish with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit inside. (Tricky, I know, but the hardest thing about this.)

Bake for approximately 45 to 55 minutes, until vegetables have released their liquid and are clearly cooked, but with some structure left so they are not totally limp. They should not be brown at the edges, and you should see that the tomato sauce is bubbling up around them.

Serve with a dab of soft goat cheese on top, alone, or with some crusty French bread, atop polenta, couscous, or your choice of grain.*

*I used quinoa and it was quick to cook

Ratatouille watching in the kitchen

Madeline cookies before baking

two pans of ratatouille and quinoa
finished madelines

Recipe from: Smitten Kitchen

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