Ratatouille goodness plus a cinema to savour
10 Comments Karen HamiltonNovember 18, 2010
My little family’s been hit with no less than 4 attacks by the flu season in the past month, so we’ve been eating a lot of comfort food lately. My favourite comfort foods lie within the realm of soup: a bowlful of shio from Ramen Santouka; chicken congee from Congee Noodle House; wonton soup from Yopo Cafe; and homemade tinolang manok.
This therapy would not be complete without plopping in front of the TV, tissue box in hand, in front of a feel-good movie – and more often than not, my selection is animated. In the weeks of my convalescence, How to Train a Dragon, Finding Nemo, and Ratatouille have gotten me through some of the worst of the spells. By this Monday, hopefully in a state of full recovery, I will be watching Ratatouille again – with ratatouille and not soup in hand – at Vancity Theatre’s Cinema to Savour screening. All proceeds benefit the Chefs’ Table Society of British Columbia.
I’ve been working directly and indirectly with the Chefs’ Table Society for the past few years. They’re the guys that run the awesome Spot Prawn Festival each May and the ones that produced the Vancouver Cooks 2 cookbook (which recently won Gold in its category at the Canadian Cookbook awards). On Monday, board member Chef Scott Jaeger of Pear Tree Restaurant and friends will be serving up yummy French-inspired finger food while the film of the same name is shown on the big screen. I thought it’d therefore be fun to share a ratatouille recipe and offer a Ratatouille prize pack in advance of this event.
Our Meatless Wednesdays ratatouille recipe
When I took up David Suzuki’s Nature Challenge a few years ago, we picked one day per week where we ate no meat. The photo above shows our first attempt cooking the ratatouille that we often ate on our Meatless Wednesdays, based on this recipe from our favourite Cook’s Illustrated cookbook. We adjusted the scale of the recipe to serve two, eaten alongside hunks of French bread and a bottle of pinot.
- 1-2 eggplants, cut into large cubes (we used 2 because I’m an eggplant fiend!)
- 1 large zucchini, cut into large cubes
- 1 small-medium onion , chopped
- 2 cloves garlic , minced
- 1 lb of your choice of very ripe tomatoes, peeled and sized like the eggplant and zucchini
- 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
- 1 tablespoon basil, chopped
- 1/2 tablespoon thyme, minced
- Olive oil, salt and pepper
- Salt eggplant pieces generously in a colander situated in your sink or over something to catch liquid. Leave for up to 3 hours, then rinse away the salt. Dry eggplant extremely thoroughly…you can’t overdo this step. They might shrink or shrivel some…that’s okay. We used clean dishcloths to extract the moisture instead of wasting paper towels. [Skip this salting process at your peril - you might need to if you're rushed, but the trade-off is a ton more mush in your dish.]
- Preheat oven to 500F. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.
- Toss eggplant and zucchini thoroughly in olive oil, then spread the pieces in a single layer across your baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven for 30-40 minutes or until well-browned and tender. Every 10 minutes, open the oven and stir the veggies on the rack. Halfway through the roast, switch and rotate the position of your baking sheets. Turn off oven and leave them in there or set aside.
- Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed roasting pan or Dutch oven.
- Cook and stir onion in pan over low heat until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.
- Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds or till the pot exudes garlicky goodness.
- Add tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes or until they start breaking apart.
- Add eggplant and zucchini and combine until just heated through, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in herbs and add salt and pepper to taste.
I had a Ratatouille moment 2 years ago when I tucked into the crab fritter at Atlanta’s Bacchanalia Restaurant. It was such a transcendent experience for me – triggering a flood of fond childhood memories – that the taste of this dish will never be forgotten. If I could dine every night at Bacchanalia, I would.
Comment on this post describing your own Ratatouille moment and you could win:
- A copy of Disney PIXAR’s Ratatouille (your choice of DVD or Blu-Ray format)
- 2 passes for the Cinema to Savour screening of Ratatouille on Monday, November 22nd
This Ratatouille prize pack is worth $150. The winner will be randomly selected (Congratulations, Brad!).
That gives you 2 days to submit your Ratatouille moment. Looking forward to reading about the dishes that spoke to you!