Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Food always comes to those who love to cook." ~ Chef Gusteau

A few years ago I made my first ratatouille after my best friend's mentioning of the dish. I wasn't sure where to find a good recipe because there were so many, so I took a chance and was really fortunate to find a delicious one that was simple yet tasty. The recipe came from a lesser known recipe database online. It is the recipe I still use to this day. I usually serve it over some white rice. It is a dish I make for myself on winter nights. It freezes well, so its also good for those evenings after a busy work day when you want to savor some hearty vegetables and unwind.

I had been wanting to see the film Ratatouille since it opened in theatres, and thankfully the other night I finally watched it. I made a Mexican dinner of soft beef tacos with Spanish rice and some red wine and then sat down on my couch, placed a blanket over myself, and laughed for two hours. Oh I loved it, and immediately I needed to track down the recipe that inspired the monumental moment in the film. I found the recipe created by Thomas Keller, but not sure if I want to recreate it. I like my recipe so much.

The character in the film I adored the most was Chef Gusteau. The fact that he died after losing a Michelin star made me adore his passion for food and perfection. He was a great teacher to Remi, and of course I do believe the motto that anyone can cook. As Keller said, anyone can cook if they have a passion for it. Gusteau is the kind of character that makes any epicurean smile.

This is my recipe I use for ratatouille:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 small eggplant, cubed
2 green bell peppers, coarsely chopped
4 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped, or 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes
3 to 4 small zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 teaspoon dried leaf basil
1/2 teaspoon dried leaf oregano
1/4 teaspoon dried leaf thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


In a 4-quart Dutch oven or saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and onions and cook, stirring often, until softened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Add eggplant; stir until coated with oil. Add peppers; stir to combine.

Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep vegetables from sticking.
Add tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs; mix well. Cover and cook over low heat about 15 minutes, or until eggplant is tender but not too soft.Serves 4.