Ratatouille-style ratatouille (With potatoes and roasted beets)

Ratatouille-style ratatouille

Ratatouille-style ratatouille

We’ve decided to watch every movie made in 1967. It is for fun! We chose 1967 at random, after watching La Chinoise a week or so ago. We’re obviously not going to watch every movie made that year, but we’re going to do our best. Some we’ve already seen and loved: Le Samourai, The Two of Us, Cool Hand Luke. Some aren’t available on DVD yet. But we’ll do the best we can, and I’ll probably tell you all about each and every film. As I said, we picked the year at random, but upon reflection it seems like an interesting time. (And wikipedia agrees, “The year 1967 in film involved some significant events. It is widely considered as one of the most ground-breaking years in film.”) On the cusp of a new decade, at the end of a decade of great change and tension and upheaval. People have new ideas, and they’re finding new ways to tell their new stories, new ways to capture the images, new ways to arrange their narratives. Many directors are working in color for the first time, and we’re moving from the cool black-and-white stylishness of the sixties to the polyester polychrome neon of the seventies. And the French are still driving enviably cool cars. (Have you seen Le Samourai?) Some films deal with shifting ideas about marriage and family. Some films are experimenting with the shockingly entertaining qualities of violence, from Bonnie and Clyde to Godard’s Weekend. We have films to distract you from your troubles–The Jungle Book, Elvis Presley movies, James Bond Movies, and films that tackle the issues head-on, like the Best Picture-winning In the Heat of the Night. Some people are looking back, and others are looking forward to a new world when anything is possible and everything is allowed. The new wave isn’t so new anymore, and the rebellious exploits of the early sixties seem quite tame and adolescent compared to what’s to come. It’s the year my parent’s got married, and two years before the summer of ’69, when men walked on the moon and I was born. I was going to tell you about the first movie we watched, La Collectionneuse, but this introduction has gone on so long that I’ll save it for another post. Watch this space!

IMG_4059It’s squash, eggplant and tomato season, and we all know what that means! It means ratatouille! We thought it would be fun to try to make it like they make it in the movie of the same name. Lots of other people have already recreated that recipe as closely as possible, so we thought we’d mix it up a bit. We decided to pre-cook everything, so that it got a little crispy. We decided to add potatoes and beets, because they’re nice thinly sliced and roasted, and because we’ve had them in abundance from the farm as well. And I cooked the eggplant separately, because I like it best crispy and roasted breadcrumbs, nuts and herbs. I cut the eggplant in large rounds, and we used it as a sort of plate for the ratatouille. Delicious!

Here’s Lulu’s To Sir with Love, the top song from 1967 from the movie released in 1967.

1 yellow squash
1 zucchini
3 smallish beets (I used golden and bull’s eye, but regular is fine)
3 potatoes about as wide around as your squash
3 tomatoes about as wide around as your squash
2 T olive oil, plus more for roasting
1 plump clove garlic
handful of fresh herbs: rosemary, thyme, oregano, tarragon, chives
fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes of different colors, or one or two medium-sized tomatoes roughly chopped
1 t balsamic
1 T Butter
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

1 large eggplant, sliced across into big rounds, and prepared this way I added some pine nuts when I ground the bread crumbs.

Trim the squash and zucchini and slice into 1/8th inch thick rounds.

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel the beets and slice into 1/8th inch rounds. Toss them with enough olive oil to coat, and roast until starting to brown and caramelize on the edges. About fifteen minutes, maybe.

Bring a medium-large pot of salted water to a boil. Scrub the potatoes and slice into 1/8th inch rounds. Drop in the boiling water and cook until just tender, but still quite firm. About five or ten minutes. Drain, and let cool.

Slice the tomatoes into thin rounds.

In a medium-sized skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic and herbs, and stir and fry for about a minute until the garlic starts to brown. Roughly chop the cherry tomatoes and add to the oil and garlic. (Or add the roughly chopped bigger tomatoes.) Stir and fry until the tomatoes are broken down and saucy. About fifteen minutes. Add the basil, balsamic, butter and salt and pepper.

Spread the tomato sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Alternating between squash, tomatoes, potatoes and beets, make a row on the outside edge of the baking dish, and then wind it around to fill up the middle. Drizzle some olive oil on the top. Cover with foil and bake at 425 for about half an hour. Remove the foil and bake another ten or so minutes until everything is tender inside and starting to brown on the edges.

Serve atop “plates” made of eggplant, with a green salad and some tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella, or whatever you like!

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14 thoughts on “Ratatouille-style ratatouille (With potatoes and roasted beets)

  1. Nice idea with the films. And the ratatouille.
    Film-wise I hope you’ll manage Tati’s Playtime, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore in Bedazzled, Milos Foreman’s Fireman’s Ball, and Ken Russell’s Deighton film Billion dollar brain, which was (tragically) the last film to feature Catherine Deneuve’s sister Françoise Dorléac, of Les Demoiselles de Rochefort fame.

    Ratatouille is about the only thing I’ve managed so far from the daunting French menu cookbook by Richard Olney, it’s not necessarily difficult but very time consuming, all ingredients added successively, you have to peel the tomatoes, 3 hrs. stovetop cooking, reduction of the juices at the end etc. But it is very tasty. And Luna is addicted to it. Though I have to say that your version seems like it might deliver the same kick for considerably less work.

    I sometimes wonder why I don’t like the film- the Pixar one. Possibly because I first saw it on an empty stomach… too many plot threads, most left unresolved… the confused inheritance angle… too many sketchy secondary characters… the unlikeable Linguini and the vague hint of racist stereotyping with some of the names and characters, perhaps… or maybe it’s just my inferiority complex when confronted with a three star restaurant 😉

    • Ooooh! a visit from Nilpferd. What a good day for The Ordinary!! Pull up a chair, I’ll pour you a glass of wine! Luna and Clio can play in our garden. Lovely!!

      Of course I’ve seen Playtime (thanks to you, I think!) and it’s one of my favorites of all time. I’ve seen Bedazzled, very much looking forward to Fireman’s Ball, and I’ve never seen or heard of Billion Dollar Brain, so I’m happily anticipating that!

      I think ratatouille is a perfect dish for this time of year. I generally make it all in a big pot with the squash and tomatoes, but I always cook the eggplant separately, marinated, egged, breaded, and roasted in olive oil. Either as crispy strips on top or, in this case, as a base layer. I only really like eggplant if it’s crispy.

      As for the movie Ratatouille, I just love it! It makes me so happy. For one thing, I’m a huge fan of Patton Oswalt, who is the voice of the rat. I’ve never noticed racist stereotyping! Other than in the line of fast foods that they make, and I think that’s actually very clever social/political satire about American convenience foods. And I don’t really dislike Linguini. He’s no hero, but I can relate to his insecurity. I think I just love the idea that creativity is valuable wherever you find it, especially if it’s just a joyful sort of affection for whatever you’re doing, even if you’re a rat. I don’t know. It’s one of my favorites, though!

      • Like I say, seeing it on an empty stomach was probably the main reason for my failing to enjoy that particular feast… all those stomach bacteria with nothing to do except send mean signals to my brain. Anyway I have a new oven to play with so I’ll certainly be trying the baked variation soon.
        I may just throw the aubergine in too- I don’t need it crispy, in fact I love it baked to a jelly-like consistency, especially if it is slightly charred, which is probably down to our Turkish neighbour.. the local döner shop does its own bread and the owner puts pieces of pepper, aubergine, zucchini and cauliflower into his bread oven at about 400° C for 10 minutes, they are always succulent and delicious, particularly with his freshly baked pita and some spicy yoghurt sauce.

      • I think I’d probably like baked eggplant if somebody else made it! I like baba ganoush. Our oven has been broken all summer, which means we have the stovetop, the broiler, which still works, inexplicably, or a tiny toaster oven. The boys have been cooking all their meals over a campfire in the backyard, and I’m tempted to stick a whole eggplant right into the fire and see what happens! It will be charred, at least!!

        Now I want some freshly baked pita. Sigh.

        I hope you and yours are all well!

      • ha ha… Luna pines for freshly baked pita every day, she gets a wedge of it most afternoons from another turkish shop run by a woman who divorced the turkish man who makes döners across the road, etc.
        Our useless oven broke too recently which is why we splurged a little too much on a gastro one Sandra found online, but it makes a huge difference. This is going to be my autumn of baking discovery!!!

        If you char aubergines all over on a cast iron skillet or just a flat piece of metal over the fire, you can make salata de vinete, Romanian aubergine dip. Let the hot aubergines drain in a colander, peel them when cool, puree, gradually beat in olive oil as you would with a mayonniase until smooth, add salt to taste, then serve topped with finely chopped onion, a tomato salad on the side, and bread. It should taste slightly smoky, slightly bitter, slightly sweet. (If it is too bitter or smoky, you can make it milder with creme fraiche.) That is really the taste of summer for me now, it reminds me of beach holidays we had on the Black sea coast.

      • That sounds so good! I have an eggplant wrapped in foil in the flames of Malcolm’s camp fire as we speak. I think I might make it like you describe, but add some pine nuts or pistachios, and process it to make it nice and smooooooth. That’s the plan. We’ll see what makes it out of the fire! We have mushrooms and potatoes in there, too. Could be the best/worst meal ever!

      • So? Did anything survive the fire? (If not, I recommed you console yourselves by watching the Foreman)

      • The eggplant was lovely! I made it as you suggested but added some pine nuts, pistachios, roasted garlic and a dash of balsamic. Nice, very nice! We don’t have the foreman yet. We have A Colt is My Passport, from Japan. A “Down and dirty beautifully photographed film brimming with formal experimentation.”

      • Sounds good, we’ll try that ourselves next time. Let me know how the Colt film goes, from the synopsis it sounds like it may have influenced Takeshi Kitano’s Sonatine.

      • It seems to have influenced and have been influenced by many films. It’s part of a genre, apparently, of Japanese noir-inpsired gangster films. I’ll let you know how it is!

  2. Don’t forget The Graduate. Then you should watch Midnight Cowboy from 1969, so you can compare Dustin Hoffman’s two roles. It must have been his plan to not be type cast…hard to imagine two more disparate roles.

    Too early for eggplant in Montana, so we’ll have to wait a bit; probably another few weeks…assuming it doesn’t freeze first.

    • I’ve seen The Graduate! And Midnight Cowboy! He’s lucky to have been cast in such different roles so early in his career. I wonder how much control he could have actually had? Who knows?

      We’re getting so many eggplants I don’t know what to do with them! It is chilly earlier here than we’re used to, though. Down to the fifties some nights. We’ll see if everything ripens! I can’t complain about the weather, though. It’s been really really lovely.

    • Your tian is beautiful, and so is your blog! Really vibrant and tasty-looking. Thanks for sharing links. Your writing is funny and nice, and your recipes look amazing.

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