I felt inspired to make this classic dish after watching the pixar film, Ratatouille. I’ve never eaten the dish before but I wanted to try it out since it has such a pretty presentation. I’m not the biggest fan of eggplant or red bell peppers but I wanted to make it the traditional way. The oh so talented people at Cut To Create put together yet another awesome video of me making the dish. Check it out below.
Start off by making the tomato sauce before prepping the vegetables. I usually make my own sauce but you can always buy a jar of prepared tomato sauce. Also, if you want to be fancy, you can make tomato concasse which are blanched, shocked, skins removed, and seeded. You can skip the work by buying a can of tomatoes that already have the skins removed. The next step is to just squeeze the seeds out, like I do in the video. I also do not use the juice in the can, it tends to have a metallic taste.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil then season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Once the onions become translucent, add the tomatoes that have been seeded and drained. Cook for a few minutes until the flavors combine. Add 2 tsp of Thyme, bay leaf, tomato paste, sugar, and the wine. Cover and let simmer for up to an hour. I let it simmer while preparing the vegetables.
*Hint on tomato paste: I found that when buying a small can of tomato paste, I never use the whole can. You can save it by spooning out a tablespoon onto parchment paper then freeze it. Once frozen, you can place them in a zip-top bag and use them as you please!
While the tomato sauce is simmering, cut the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and red bell pepper in 1/8th inch pieces. This is best achieved with a mandoline but a sharp knife with consistent cuts works well too. Once this is done, add the cream to the tomato sauce and season with salt if needed.
Add the tomato sauce to the bottom of the baking dish (remove the bay leaf) and spread evenly. Start by laying the vegetables in this order: eggplant, squash, zucchini, red bell pepper and repeat. Once it's layered, you can press down to make sure that it is tightly packed. To finish, season the vegetables with salt, pepper, thyme (1 tbsp), and drizzle with olive oil. Cover with foil or parchment and bake for 40-55 minutes. You will know it's ready when the tomato sauce is bubbly and the vegetables have given off their liquid. Serve hot, Bon Appetite!