Fork Spoon Knife is the personal blog of Asha where she chronicles her journeys in food through stories, recipes and photographs. She can also be found doodling and sharing her experiences as below.

 
                        

8.29.2014

Unpretty

Ratatouille

When I finished working on the photos for the recipe, last night, I nearly decided to not post it at all. I had high hopes for this recipe. I mean it is an awesome dish after all, elegance rooted in rusticity and very, very satisfying! You would think that something that starts with neatly arranged concentric circles of sliced, colorful Summer vegetables must turn into a gorgeous looking dish?

But, not so. The homemade tomato sauce that I so meticulously packed in between layers of carefully arranged vegetable, defied gravity and rose up and flooded my beautiful arrangement. Everywhere I saw, it ran red... my own version of a massacre in a bowl. I stared at the screen disappointed at how not-so-pretty it all looked and wondering how something that started so 'styled' ended up anything but!

Ratatouille Arranged

Then I remembered the flavors. I had made this dish a few days ago. Yet, the tastes came back to me, as if I had just eaten it for lunch. I remembered how the house had filled up with the aromas of the juicy squashes baking in the herby tomato sauce I had made before. I remembered how when I took out the pan from the oven, the sauce was still gurgling around the edges and working its way to infuse flavor through the slices of vegetables. I remembered the slight resistance my serving spoon felt as it dug through the layers, reminding me that everything had cooked just right, soft but holding their integrity.

Most of all, I remembered how it felt to take the first bite. To taste every layer, every flavor unsullied. I remember how it reminded me that it was still warm outside, that Summer was here and was right there for me frolic in. I remember how it made me settle back into the couch, relaxing my whole body and how I gave in to the delight of sharing that bowl that I had baked with love. I remember how gratifying it felt to be appreciated for having cooked something so simple but so fulfilling.

Ratatouille

And, then the next day, how thrilled I was to see a small slice still left over that would make for a perfect lunch with a nice fried egg. How I swirled the runny yolk into the sauce and had whole other experience. How, I knew I would nothing better that day and I did not! :)

So, I realized, it did not matter how unpretty it looked, I would be remiss in not sharing this dish with you. I would hate to have kept all these experiences from you. This is not a pretty dish when you place it on the table but what it lacks in aesthetics, you have my word, it more than makes up for in flavor!

Ratatouille + Egg

This dish is inspired by the movie of the same name, one of my all time favorites. Not that I have any liking to the rodent species but if you for a minute (ok, 2 hours) forget that it is a rat, the story very heart warming and philosophical. Every can cook, and every one should know how to. Anyway, before the movie, I always made this dish as a hearty chunky stew. Tasty without doubt but it lacks the aplomb of seeing something come together so elegantly. Layering this way also allows you to have a deeper experience of what is by nature a peasant dish and reminds me that no matter how humble, any dish can be elevated to be worthy of company!

If you are serving this for dinner, I highly recommend a fried egg on top. Honestly, an egg is a soulful thing and it makes this dish so much more decadent than pairing with a salad.

Summer is nearly ending. I say make the most of the squashes in the market and make this dish this weekend!



Classic Ratatouille
{serves 4 with a side or 3 very hungry people}

(I made the tomato sauce at home. The fresh flavor of the homemade definitely adds to this dish. But, use what you have. If you would like my recipe, please leave me a note below.)



1 zucchini
1 squash
1 long eggplant (such as a japanese one)
handful sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves removed
handful of basil, julienned
1/2 pint of a tomato sauce
sea salt, pepper and olive oil as you need

Preheat the oven to 375F. Slice all the vegetables into about 1/4 cm thick rounds or simply use a mandolin.

Spread a few generous tablespoons of the sauce at the base of a deep 8 inch pan.

Arrange the slices of the vegetables alternating each other in an overlapping fashion around the edge of the pan. Fill the entire pan in concentric circles. Drizzle a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle a third of the thyme and basil, salt and pepper.

Pour a generous amount of tomato sauce to cover the vegetable in a nice thick layer.

Repeat the vegetable and tomato layers as many times as you can fit in the pan finishing with the vegetable layer.

Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the baking pan just over the last year layer (LOL. Thanks to the commenter for the catch on the typo. Freudian slip, clearly!). Place it on top and press gently so it sticks to the top layer. This will allow the vegetables to steam in vapors of the tomato sauce as it reduces.

Bake the ratatouille for 30-35 minutes until the vegetables are tender but not mush.

Rest for a few minutes for the juices to settle in and then serve.

6 comments:

  1. A beautiful ratatouille! Yes, taste is more important than looks... In any case, the end result looks fantastic and really appetizing...

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  2. It is indeed rustic yet pretty!!!

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  3. You know, I must say I found the dish pretty beautiful, and was surprised to learn you almost did not blog about it....

    To me, it is wonderful, and I agree that taste should come first anyway ;-)

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  4. "Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit the baking pan just over the last year." ??

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    Replies
    1. LOL.. thanks for the catch ;) If only I could really do that and put a lid over the last year!!! ;-)

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