So clearly, I need to address a little kitchen safety first since this past Saturday I did something stupid. I will be VERY brief for those who get a little queasy, but I cut off most of the top pad of my pinky finger. Yup! On a mandoline…yup. Now, this is not the WORST thing I’ve done to myself in the kitchen (boiling hot water splash back was the worst) but it’s up there for sure. No ER trip and no stitches (incredibly grateful to have a doctor for a father-in-law) but definitely lots of Neosporin and bandaids. Now before you ask, why didn’t I use the mandolines handguard? Because I was slicing a rather soft tomato so I didn’t want to overly damage it. How about no cut gloves? Funny enough, I own two (one for each hand), but I have smaller hands and these gloves are a little bigger which makes me a little more clumsy. So I made the dumb error of using none of my safety tools and now I may lose all the feeling in the tip do my pinky permanently (I made it all the way to the dermis ya’ll….it was bad). SO! My lesson (which is obvious, but you know, sometimes not really bad to repeat it): if you have safety equipment, USE THEM, and if you’re prone to accidents in the kitchen, USE THEM. The no-cut gloves to work, but I’m going to see if I can’t find me some smaller ones that fit my hand better. Lord….
But Happy Easter weekend everyone, and Happy Passover too! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend! For me, injured finger aside, the Easter Bunny (aka my in-laws) brought me some AWESOME olive oils and a bottle of limoncello from their very recent trip to Italy, so I’m a VERY happy camper right now! I have been using their last bottle of olive oil to make my own minced garlic fresh (a recipe for that and homemade vanilla extract will be coming soon!), so I’m researching and thinking about ways to use them! And one of the things I did use it for was this recipe for ratatouille! And yes, I did take my plating/configuring from the Pixar film, which is one of my favorites!
And I should also mention, this recipe is less than $20 to make and can be made Whole30 compliant too. Fun fact, Paul Newman’s Tomato Basil sauce is as follows: Tomato Puree (Water, Tomato Paste, Citric Acid), Basil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Salt, Onions, Carrot Puree, Garlic, Black Pepper. Yup! WHOLE30 COMPLIANT!!!! You’d want to not make the béchamel, which basically just adds a little creaminess to the tomato, but the sauce and veggie juices stand out the most! And it is VERY easy to make (just don’t cut yourself on that stupid mandoline murder device).
My tip for getting all the veggies the same size is to use a biscuit cutter (I have a ten-piece set for cookies) and I base the size to use on the more uniformed veggie. While that does mean I have scraps, if you have a dog that likes veggies (like Tuggs) it makes for a VERY nutritional meal for your pup! Composting is the next best thing. BUT! I was researching various ways to do Ratatouille, and I really like having tomato instead of red bell peppers (they also just add that extra ounce of sweetness to the dish). So without further ado (also because typing hurts my finger and I wrote most of this on my phone because it was such a pain to do…) – RATATOUILLE! (Which does not taste like Rat or Patootie – if you’ve seen the movie, I hope you laughed at that.) — Cooking Maggie
PS. Quick Housekeeping – we will be back to regular scheduled posts – I was in NOLA for a day-job related work trip, which you can check on out my Instagram!!!
While Chef de Home’s recipe made for a fantastic foundation, I made some adjustments based on my 1st and 2nd time making it – you need more vegetables to fill even just a small casserole dish, and while they preferred to leave the tomato sauce up to you, I like using pre-packaged items that not only taste good, but are good for you. If I don’t have the time to make the tomato sauce myself, the whole30 compliant version I found will work perfectly! They also used bell pepper, but it doesn’t fit the circular theme that’s going on, so I swapped for tomato – yes, it’s more watery, BUT you almost need that for the sauce to loosen it up and really ensure all your veggies are covered. The bechamel is a GREAT addition of creaminess to this recipe, but I did add reduce the milk (you don’t need 1 cup), and added salt/pepper. I will also say, you don’t have to boil the potatoes – you slice them so thin anyway, they’re perfect cooking with the rest of the veggies.
- 2 eggplants
- 2 yellow squash
- 2 zucchini
- 3 medium red potatoes
- 3 beef tomatoes
Bechamel Sauce (not whole30 compliant)
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup of milk
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 jar of Paul Newman’s Tomato & Basil Sauce (Whole30 Compliant!)
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 3-4 sprigs of thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
- Additional salt/pepper to taste
- olive oil for topping
- Mandoline (and no cut gloves…)
- Parchment Paper
- Biscuit Cutter
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Place your baking dish (whatever you want to use) on top of parchment paper, and use a pencil/pen/marker to draw around the bottom – cut out the shape with scissors and set aside. This will ensure the parchment paper fits perfectly inside.
- CAREFULLY slice all of your veggies via mandoline (or knife) to about 4mm or 1/8 of an inch – for uniformity, you can use a biscuit cutter to cut the bigger veggies down to size of your smallest veggie width (I used my zucchini to dictate the size of all my circles).
- In a small saucepan, melt the butter, then add in the flour. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, then add in the milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Stir in nutmeg, salt, and pepper (adding more to taste), and set aside.
- In the bottom of your baking dish, pour ALL (yes, all), of the jar of tomato sauce (about 2-2 1/2 cups), the garlic, thyme, chili, salt, pepper, and all of the bechamel sauce. Stir to combine.
- Create stacks of vegetables (I usually do zucchini, potato, eggplant, tomato, squash), and place into your dish, having them stand on their edges – repeat and make a circle along the outside rim, then again inside. The sauce will be thick enough to support the stacks standing.
- Drizzle with a little olive oil, then place the parchment paper on top, and bake for 55-60 minutes.
- When done, remove from oven, let sit for 5 minutes, then serve warm and drizzle more olive oil on top if desired. (You can also top with parmesan cheese!)
- Note: For a fun way to serve, use a larger biscuit cutter to arrange stacks delicately inside to make it stand like my photo!