Ratatouille, ( ra-tuh-TOO-ee), is a delightful animated Disney film released in 2007 about a gifted French rat named Remy with highly developed senses of smell and taste who dreams of becoming a chef. Remy’s signature dish, ratatouille, saves the day in this fast moving, highly entertaining comedy about the intricacies of French kitchens and Michelin stars.
Ratatouille is also an infamous preparation of fresh vegetables simmered in olive oil that hails from the Provence region of France. Paul Bocuse, the legendary godfather of French cuisine, opened a restaurant inspired by the film, and a Disney ride attraction where guests actually got to sample Remy’s ratatouille.
Although I never dined at Ratatouille, I did have the opportunity to enjoy Bocuse’s cuisine and tour the impeccably run kitchen of his famed restaurant in the Lyon suburb of Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or. Known for his bright renditions of classical dishes that provincial wives and grannies were cooking for centuries, Paul Bocuse and his cuisine celebrated the freshest and best ingredients.
The recipe for Summer Market Ratatouille is from my archives. Inspired by the summer abundance of fresh vegetables; bright purple eggplant, glossy green and red bell peppers, yellow and green striped summer squash, and bright white new garlic, this recipe is merely a guide. The flavors of Ratatouille become more complex as each vegetable and layer are added to the pot. We enjoy Ratatouille as a simple casserole side dish, or under a blanket of melted cheese with crusty bread as a luncheon dish. Ratatouille is equally delicious hot, cold or at room temperature. Spread on crackers or bread, take to the beach for a picnic, or freeze to enjoy this winter.
SUMMER MARKET RATATOUILLE
- 1 cup chopped fresh onion about 2 medium
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped or more to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium eggplant sliced and cubed
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs like parsley basil, oregano, marjoram
- 2 cups sliced and cubed zucchini or summer squash about 2
- 1 bell pepper (red, orange, yellow, or green) cut into julienne strips
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes or tomato sauce
- Sea salt and fresh pepper
- freshly grated Parmesan cheese
- In a heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until soft.
- Slice the eggplant and cut into ½ inch cubes.
- Finely chop the fresh herbs.
- Stir in the eggplant and herbs, cover, and cook until the eggplant is soft, stirring to prevent from sticking.
- Add the bell pepper, summer squash or zucchini, and tomatoes or tomato sauce and cook until soft. Season to taste with sea salt and fresh pepper.
- To serve: Ratatouille may be served over pasta. Or spoon into individual casserole dishes, top with Parmesan cheese, heat in 350-degree oven til bubbly and cheese is melted. Or serve at room temperature with artisan bread or crackers as an appetizer. Or serve cold on a sandwich.