I’ve loved Pixar’s “Ratatouille” since it first came out and I saw it in theaters. But it’s a movie that’s only grown on me since then.
Of course, I’ve come to love cooking even more, so that’s no surprise, but it’s really the movie’s messages that have grown in importance to me.
There is the message (*spoilers ahead*) from the critic at the end of the movie that “Anyone can cook,” which isn’t to say that we can all be great chefs but a great chef can come from even the humblest of beginnings.
But if I’m honest, it’s the message from Remy walking away from his dad to pursue his passion despite his family’s wishes that really gets me.
I won’t get overly sappy here, but I’m coming up on a year since leaving journalism, and that scene has been making me think and challenging me to move forward. That’s no less true of our current political climate as we approach another election. Things can change, as long as we decide to step up.
So, to readers, please vote and convince your friends and family to do the same. And, to myself, who voted last weekend, I am reminded to step up and try to help bring about that change by working for it.
Now, I’ll step off my pedestal and get back to my recipe.
I’m embarrassed to say how many years I’ve wanted to make the eponymous ratatouille from the movie, and I finally did it during my year of casseroles. And while it did not achieve the picturesque quality of the movie, it was a delight.
I thought it could be replicated on a sheet pan, albeit a smaller amount, and I was not wrong. However, I did buy way too much of the required vegetables, and so I had to make it on several sheet pans over multiple days. And yet, I’m not complaining.
I tried a few different methods to see what would work best — sauce on top, sauce on bottom, baked at a slightly lower temperature, and came up with what is my favorite. It’s also pretty easy, to boot, except the slicing, but it’s made easier if you have a mandoline slicer.
Here’s what I did (using the best version of my tests):
- About 2 small summer squash, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
- About 2 small zucchini, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
- About 2 medium Chinese eggplant, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
- About 3 medium Roma tomatoes, sliced ⅛ to ¼ inch thick
- Salt, to taste
- Olive oil, for coating
- 1 jar (16 to 20 oz.) arrabbiata sauce
- Basil, to taste
- Thyme, to taste
- Minced garlic (I used dried), to taste
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray or brush olive oil on a large sheet pan (about 15 ½ by 12 inches)
Pour the sauce on top of the oiled pan, enough to coat but not necessarily using it all. Place a layer of vegetables on top of the sauce, slightly overlapping like shingles, and in any pattern you like — I did a row of each except tomatoes and put tomatoes on top but do whatever makes you happy.
Oil the top of the vegetable layer and add some thyme, basil, and minced garlic. Add another layer and repeat with the oil and herbs and garlic. If there’s still room, you can add a third layer (with oil, etc. on top) but my edges are not high so two layers was about all I could handle.
Top with parchment paper.
Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the vegetables are cooked, with some browning around the edges (trust me, it tastes delightfully smoky). Serve with more sauce, if desired, and enjoy!