Granted, this might be the yuppiest thought to have ever been uttered, tied only with “OMG! They’re out of pumpkin spice lattes!” and “Ugh my premium high speed internet is totally only running at the speed of standard” but can I just ask what the heck we did before
All over the country, small farmers are pulling insanely fresh, plump vegetables out of the ground and off of vines or trees or… well, this is why I leave the farming to the farmers. Anyway, I only mention it because a CSA means you not only get to support these fabulous farmers, but receive, in return, a weekly box full of said freshly picked veggies (and, in some CSAs, fruits too).
What the heck is ratatouille? It’s not not the fancy, complicated dish that the name sounds like. Oh, and it’s not a cartoon mouse either. (As someone who, as a rule, detests cartoons, the degree to which I adore that cartoon mouse is somewhat alarming. But that’s for another post. But seriously, how could you not love
I’ve seen this dish in several forms, from the probably-original peasant stew in which the veggies are roughly chopped and simmered or baked in a thick tomato-based sauce to an overly fancy and (if you ask me) time consuming swirl, culminating in a flourish of some kind of flower pattern in the center. Who has time for that??
the pan if you wanted to) before layering the veggies on top. I like to slice them up separately and then create an assembly line so you can grab them in order, shove them into the pan and then grab another set. That’s the easiest way to get this dish to look like you spent all day on it, but we’re really only talking about an extra 2-3 minutes of effort.
Don’t worry about perfection here. If you look closely at my version, you’ll notice that the pattern is spotty at best, betraying my limited attention span while I was putting this together (no matter how many times you watch Gilmore Girls through, it is always SO good, amiright?). But look, if you came to this site for perfection, you might be sorely disappointed. We do our best, but I’d rather have stellar flavor and an imperfect veggie pattern any day.
And, boy, does the flavor deliver on this. Great quality fresh vegetables have a beautiful flavor on their own, and I also used super high quality crushed tomatoes (in this case, they were also from my CSA, but you can get good quality canned tomatoes at the store. Try San Marzanos, if you can find them. It’s worth the investment). So, the dish didn’t need much help, but I added a couple of flavor enhancements – fresh garlic and basil, and a spice mix called
– just to take it over the top. Please don’t hate me for requiring you to buy a new spice for this dish. It is 100% worth it, and you can sprinkle it on chicken and potatoes for a quick, one pan weeknight dinner. If you really don’t want to purchase
But wait, we haven’t finished discussing THIS quick one-pan weeknight dinner. It’s super healthy, quick and filling, and all you need to make it a meal is your favorite protein. I picked up a rotisserie chicken to accompany this, and then subsequently ate the
. After a day or two in the fridge, the flavors mature and meld and I’m not committing to anything here, but there is a chance the leftovers might be better than the freshly made dish. So, all I’m saying is you should probably double the recipe…just to be safe.
Stack the veggie slices in alternating patters (e.g.: onion, zucchini, eggplant, tomato; repeat) and place them on their side in the pan, leaning against the edge of the pan. Repeat until you’ve formed a couple of rows of veggies, filled the pan, and used up all of the veggie slices.
The vegetables, including the crushed tomatoes, take center stage in this dish and there is relatively little in the ingredient list to season them, so flavor is very important. Try to get the absolute best quality vegetables you can. It really is worth the splurge, and will take this dish from good to great.