Here is my own story of making a Ratatouille out of the blue 🙂 Jai Sri Hari .

History of Ratatouille.

Originating in the 18th Century in the Provencal region of Nice, it is known as a peasants stew created by poor farmers that needed to use up the harvest of the fresh summer vegetables that had ripened all at once and were ready to eat from the garden.

‘’It is difficult to imagine more humble origins than, those of the genius now cooking at Gusteaus’ who is in this critic’s opinion is nothing less than the finest Chef in France’’-Anton Ego

These are the words of the character Anton Ego, the Food Critic from the movie: Ratatouille by Pixar.

 

I never thought an Italian dish Ratatouille is going to give me a sleepless night !!! The dish is quite famous from the animated movie from Pixar The Ratatouille.  The story is about  Remy, a rat, aspiring to become the finest Chef in  France. As the story unfolds  Remy teams up with Linguini and wins the heart of the fierce food critic Anton Ego by presenting him with the inspiring dish Ratatouille. I have seen this movie many years back from a huge recommendation from my kids. I didn’t make a plan of making a Ratatouille back then or even now. This time I thought to myself, let us try to make a dish from the movies.  Kids love animated movies, show them the movie while you cook it, they are sure to love it!

‘’Gardening is a creative task and a fine quality of patience’’

Says the great writer  Frank  . S .Smythe  in his book The Valley Of Flowers. An Adventure In The Upper Himalaya.

 

It all started with the humble Eggplant that I grew in my kitchen garden. I enjoy making compost from vegetable peels in pots and then directly planting seeds in them.  This is a simple process that can give you a green thumb in gardening. Also, you are serving a cause with recycling kitchen waste.

Making  Of Compost Easy Steps :

Fill up a gardening pot with the vegetable and fruit peels, coffee and tea rinds, eggshells, etc. in layers.   (Please avoid remnants of cooked food). Once it is filled with one-quarter capacity, add a thin layer of garden soil above this. Gradually fill the pot to its full capacity and keep it closed with a lid with holes to allow air circulation.  You can fill the pot in one go or taking many days. But it is necessary to keep it closed and well aerated by mixing the contents at regular intervals.   Within a span of ten to fifteen days, you have a pot with soft and dry compost.

I had planted a lot of seeds during the lock down. The saplings of aubergine, bitter gourd, mint, basil, tomatoes, French beans emerged happily from compost filled pots giving hope and green comfort.

The tender saplings needed a lot of personal care. Taking care of my saplings and watching them grow gave me the precious feeling of a gardener. Along with seed grew many weeds too in full blossom. They grew faster and stronger covering the space which was required for my saplings to grow. It is essential to remove these unwanted weeds just like removing mindfully the stray thoughts from our minds.

Soon I had a small green corner with had basil, lemongrass, aubergines, tomatoes, bitter gourd, red amaranthus, mint, and a few more plants.  The plants blossomed and started bearing fruits. The cutest was the aubergines that came as small shy purple bulbs under the leaves. Every day I marked a mental note of their growth chart. And they grew into beautiful organic eggplants.  I decided I will make something special with them and waited.

Waiting helps! Most of the time waiting brings the right solution. One day as I was browsing Instagram a stunning image of Ratatouille flashed in front of my eyes. It was the ‘’Just right ‘’ moment for my situation with eggplants.

The dish is made of thinly sliced aubergines, tomatoes, zucchini, and yellow squashes arranged in a geometrical spiral in marinara sauce and baked to perfection. This is it. I decided to make this famous dish with my aubergines. I had most of the ingredients in my kitchen garden. Including tomatoes and fresh basil the ingredients needed for the sauce. I got zucchini and bell peppers from the vegetable vendor. Since yellow squash was not available I replaced it with yellow bell peppers.

The aubergines, tomatoes and, basil were collected from the garden. You will have to grow them to know their fragrance and tenderness, A spice garden is sometimes more fragrant than a flower garden.

The marinara sauce was made, the ratatouille was baked and celebrated hot from the oven. I was happier than Remy himself in discovering a new dish and new taste from my humble kitchen garden.

 

Ingredients for the Marinara Sauce

§  2 Onions finely chopped

§  6 to 8 Garlic cloves finely chopped

§  2 cups of tomato puree from blanched tomatoes

§  Basil

§  Chilli flakes

§  Thyme

§  Salt

§  Olive oil

Preparation

Sauté the onions and garlic in olive oil.  Add tomato puree. Add basil, thyme, red chili flakes, and salt. Stir and cook on a medium flame till sauce thickens.

Ingredients for Ratatouille

§  2 cups Marinara Sauce

§  2 medium _ sized Egg plants

§  2 tomatoes

§  1 zucchini

§  1 yellow bell pepper/ yellow squash

§  Basil

§  Thyme

§  Olive oil

§  Preparation

§  Preheat oven for 190degree c

§  Slice the vegetables into 1 mm thickness rounds.

Pour the sauce in a baking tray.

Assemble the vegetables spirally in alternating patterns the tray.

Make a sauce of olive oil, basil, and thyme and brush lightly over the vegetables.

Sprinkle some more salt.

Bake for 45 minutes covered with a silver foil. Remove the silver foil and again bake for another 15 minutes without cover. Enjoy the dish hot and oven-fresh.

References and links:

‘’ Just Right ‘’ quote is taken from Swamiji’s endearing Blog https://os.me/just-right/

Here is the link of the making of  Ratatouille Pixar style:

Also, see  Anton Ego tastes Ratatouille:

I am sure you are going to enjoy baking this amazing dish and get the delight of creativity in cooking as well as gardening.

Gratitude 🙂

Thank you so much dear  Dr.Jaysree Om Borad for helping me with editing tools.

 

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surekha chandrasekhar

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