Pixar’s Ratatouille is one of my daughter’s favorite movies (aw, heck…I’ll admit it – it’s one of MY favorites too!) and lately she’s been hounding me to watch it again, but this time to have “dinner and a show” by cooking up a batch of real ratatouille to go along with it.
So, last night we hit the produce market and picked up the main ingredients.
You’ll note two things in this recipe: First, a traditional ratatouille uses sliced or cubed eggplant. I don’t like eggplant…and it’s my kitchen…so, no eggplant. What I DO like, however, is meat and potatoes…so I took the liberty of adding some bratwurst and sweet-taters to the dish. Hence, “Redneck Ratatouille.”
Oh, and even WITH the meat (the most expensive single ingredient) this dish priced out at just $1.50 per serving. It would be under a buck a plate as a vegetarian dish…if you’re into that sort of thing.
Seriously though, savory, delicious, and packed with nutritious veggies, this is one of the best things I’ve eaten in a while. The sweet potatoes were an absolute knock-out!
It was a big hit with the kid, too.
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Chef Perry’s Redneck Ratatouille
- 1 pkg (5 count) Johnsonville Beer Brats
- 3 small zucchini
- 3 small yellow squash squash
- 3 small sweet potatoes
- 2 tsp. Better Than Bullion Vegetable Base
- 4 Roma tomatoes
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt & black pepper
- 2 small yellow onion
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 sm. can organic tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves
- 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
- 1 loaf of Italian bread (opt)
Mise en Place
Cut zukes, tomatoes, and yellow squash in 1/2-inch rounds. Peel sweet potatoes and onions and slice in 1/2-inch rounds. Core the bell pepper and cut in 2in squares.
Tomato sauce: In a small pot, combine tomato paste, vegetable base, vinegar, marjoram, thyme, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, stirring, and then remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare the Dish
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Bring 2 inches of water to a high simmer in a large skillet, and poach the bratwurst about 5 minutes (you want them not-quite-done in the middle) allowing the water to cook off. Remove brats from pan and set aside.
Add water to 3 inches, and 1 tsp of salt, and bring to a simmer in the same large skillet, deglazing the pan of any browned bits from the brats. Add sweet potato slices (add water to cover, of need be) and blanch on a low simmer, 2-3 minutes (should still be very firm). Drain potato slices and shock in cold water until cool.
Put the cooled sweet potato slices, zucchini, squash, bell pepper, and tomatoes in a large mixing bowl, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Toss gently to combine.
Do the same to the onion slices on a separate plate, but don’t toss (you want them whole.)
Now you have a decision to make…
If you just want a delicious, more traditionally presented ratatouille (ie: less work), combine all of the veggies and the brats in a large oven-safe pan, top with sauce, stir, and follow the cooking instructions, below.
If you want a fancier presentation (like in the movie) stack one piece of each ingredient in the pan, in any order, then repeat (in whatever order you used), until you run out of ingredients. Don’t add the brat slices to every stack, as you’ll run out sooner…about every 3rd stack is right.
If you have extra odds and ends, and you will, just stuff ’em in along the sides.
Roast until the vegetables are soft and pliable, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to rest 10 minutes before serving (this is a good time to warm the bread in the oven!)
Taste to check the seasoning (mainly salt level), and then transfer to a serving platter or individual bowl.
Remember: Anyone can cook!