Friday, March 14, 2008

Back Home in the Kitchen


You know I'm so psyched to be back in the kitchen... oh, it is so nice to be eating delicious homemade food... it's tasty, I know it's vegan, and it's full of local organic ingredients. heavenly sigh!

Well, I hit a serious homerun as soon as we got home. I asked Musty what he wanted (not always a good idea!), and after rejecting the first couple suggestions, I agreed to Ratatouille. Sounds fun! Plus, back when that movie came out, I remember seeing an article in the food section with the "official" recipe of the movie - created by Thomas Keller, of the so-fancy-pantsy restaurant "The French Laundry." So, I went online and did a search and found his recipe.
What a hit! OH MAN this was SO GOOD. Just about one of the most flavorful and extraordinarily good things I've ever made. Musty, who is happy to go along with all the vegan food I cook up, said "I didn't realize vegetables could have that much flavor." It was that good. The veggies cook for 2.5 hours in the oven, which makes them tender and all the flavors mix together. Yumola.

Here is the recipe, complete with my comments in italics


Serves 4 to 6.

• 1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed

• 1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed

• 1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed

(I just used one red pepper, to cut costs)

• 5 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

(I reduced to about 2 Tbsp)

• 1 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, divided

• 1/2 c. finely diced yellow onion

• 3 tomatoes (about 12 oz.), peeled, seeded and finely diced, juices reserved

• 1 sprig fresh thyme

• 1 sprig flat-leaf parsley

• 1/2 bay leaf

• 1 zucchini (4 to 5 oz.) sliced in 1/16-in. rounds

• 1 Japanese eggplant (4 to 5 oz.), sliced into 1/16-in. rounds

• 1 yellow squash (4 to 5 oz. ), sliced into 1/16-in. rounds

• 4 Roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16-in. rounds

• 1/8 tsp. dried thyme leaves (I did about 1/2 tsp by accident and it was good!)

• 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the peppers cut side down on a foil-lined sheet. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil (Or 1-2 teaspoons), 1 teaspoon garlic and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juices, fresh thyme, parsley and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes. Do not brown.

Add peppers and simmer to soften them. Season to taste with salt and discard herbs. Reserve 1 tablespoon of the mixture and spread remainder in bottom of an 8-inch skillet.

Reduce the heat in the oven to 275 degrees.

Down the center of the skillet arrange a strip of alternating slices of zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash and Roma tomatoes, overlapping so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap the vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until pan is filled. (It's a little confusing, just arrange them artfully with a good amount of overlap, with the center of the pile being mounded up a bit higher)

Mix 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic, the dried thyme, 2 teaspoons olive oil in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over the vegetables.

Cover pan with foil and seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more.

For the final topping combine the reserved tablespoon of sauce with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Drizzle around plate. Serve hot. (I forgot this last step entirely, and didn't seem to miss it, although I'll try to remember it next time)

I served it up with a nice simple brown rice pilaf and some homemade Yellow Mountain Beans. What a beautiful and delicious feast. After China, and my massive protein deprived state, I have been on a serious love-kick for beans. Can't stop making them. Eating them. Thinking about them.

Of course, one must have dessert. I made the "Lemon Glazed 24 Karat Cake" from Great Good Desserts Naturally. I also made the "Dreamy Lemon Cream" to go with it. The Carrot Cake was simple, quick and tasty. A nice light and easy dessert. I loved the texture of the lemon cream, but the flavor was off for me. I think there was too much lemon extract, so -even though I use an all natural extract - the flavor was quite chemically. I ended up tossing the whole thing and just enjoying the cake as is.

More coming... I've been doing lots of cooking!


  1. Wow. That looks absolutely amazing! I have never had ratatouille, but have always wanted to... That recipe sounds delish, and your pictures are beautiful.

  2. I love ratatouille! I've only ever eaten/made the traditional version, which is more like stew, but yours is beautiful! It's so lovely to see the different slices of veggies carefully arranged. I'm so glad to see the results of your return to the kitchen!

  3. I've never had ratatouille, but it looks incredible! I'll have to make that very soon!

  4. I've never made ratatouille or seen the movie... I need to do both!

  5. Oh man Amey, I wish I was in YOUR kitchen! When I get back from travel, I get really disorganized and listless- I wish I was cooking up beautiful gorgeous food like yours! Ratatouille is one of my all-time favorite dishes- I even ate it on my wedding night!

  6. Oooh, that sounds SO good! I'm going to need a break for the soy heavy foods I've been eating on my trip & this sounds like a good start!

  7. Wow, that looks really, really GOOD! I've never had Ratatouille but it's on my "try" list, LOL.

    And, thanks for your nice comments on my blog... I'm glad you took the time to write because now I've found your blog, too. :)

  8. ahhh, the promises of a good home-cooked meal where you know what's in the food. haha. Glad your tummy is full again.

  9. Anonymous12:05 PM

    making it right now... will post once it is finish!!!


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