On Thursday last week, I faced the following problem: I had just gotten my produce box from Boston Organics, but I was going out of town for the weekend and so had to use up all my squash and zucchini in one meal. While I don’t mind eating them, I’m not really partial to either vegetable, so I don’t cook them that often. Luckily, tasty inspiration befell me in the form of my favorite pixar film. I’ve never cooked ratatouille before, but located this recipe from a reliable source. I made tomato sauce by simmering some good quality canned roma tomatoes and a couple fresh beefsteak ones (also from the farm box) with some minced celery and shallots and lots of basil and olive oil. I think I overdid the sauce in the ratatouille, though, because I was worried about the dish drying out (bad experience with dried-out lasagna). My concerns were uncalled for, however, and only after did I remember that zucchini and eggplant, like most vegetables, release plenty of moisture when they cook. Not that we were complaining, as we managed to put the loaf of bread that accompanied the meal to good use. I also gave up on alternating the bell peppers with the zucchini and eggplant, since the pepper slices were unevenly large, so I ended up just heaping them in the middle. Had I put more thought into the pepper selection, I might have prevented that minor frustration.
I liked this dish because it was seasonal, healthy yet intensely flavorful, and easy to make, especially when equipped with a mandolin. While it may not have been as mind-blowing as the one from the film, I don’t think one can coax much more flavor from a simple panoply of vegetables than by making ratatouille. With a baguette and a wedge of cheese, and perhaps a light wine, you might even marvel that the French are not so bad, after all. And I wouldn’t blame you.