I experimented with ratatouille for the first time last week. Twice actually. And I also watched Disney-Pixar’s Ratatouille for the first time last week. I guess you could say it was a pretty big week.
Y’all, I don’t know how it’s taken me 11 years to finally watch Ratatouille. Actually, I’ve been considering this to be a “newer” Disney movie that I just hadn’t gotten around to watching yet, so I was shocked when I realized that it’s been out for over a decade now. Whoops.
If you’re not familiar with the movie, it’s about a rat with big dreams of being able to cook foods artistically rather than sticking with what rats are supposed to do–scrounge in dumpsters.
Yeah, it’s far-fetched. But if anyone can make me love a movie about a rat with big dreams of being in the kitchen, it’s Disney-Pixar. (That being said, my feelings about having mice/rats in my house and kitchen have not changed. I think I can manage without their help.)
I love what this movie said about food and art in general:
“Anyone can cook.”
“A great artist can come from anywhere.”
If you want to cook, cook. If you want to make something, make something. Food and cooking aren’t just for the chefs or the restaurateurs or the food bloggers or the cookbook writers. My goal around here is to make cooking accessible to anyone who wants to do it.
Ratatouille is such a great dish to showcase the versatility and accessibility of cooking. In the movie, the chefs scoffed at it as “peasant food.”
If you look up ratatouille, most of the internet pictures that come up will be this sliced and layered variation, but the more classic version of ratatouille is a home-cooked stew with most of the ingredients available fresh from a garden.
For my ratatouille recipe, I chose the layered variation because I do love pretty food, but I skipped the fancy spiral patterns you’ll often see on Pinterest because, again… accessibility. I don’t ever want to make cooking look intimidating.
We’re not aiming for perfection with this recipe, just flavor. If you want to make this fancy, by all means, go for it. But if you’re just looking for a comforting weeknight dinner, I think this will still do nicely.
If you try Ratatouille with Polenta at home, I’d love to hear what you think! Share pictures with me on social media by tagging @thesavvyplate on Instagram or Twitter or by mentioning my page The Savvy Plate Blog on Facebook!
Ratatouille with Polenta
Thinly sliced summer vegetables layered with French herb tomato sauce and served with a side of buttery grits
for the sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 red onion (white will also work)
- 1 tsp basil (dried)
- 3/4 tsp thyme (dried)
- 3/4 tsp rosemary (dried)
- 1/2 tsp oregano (dried)
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
for the vegetable layers
- 1 eggplant (small)
- 1 tomato
- 1 zucchini (large)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/8 tsp salt
for the polenta
- 1 1/2 cups polenta (coarsely ground cornmeal)
- 4 1/2 cups water
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp butter
- grated parmesan
- fresh basil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. To prepare the sauce, heat olive oil in a pan over low heat. Dice the onion. Add all sauce ingredients except the vinegar to the pan, mix well, and cook for 10 minutes, adding the vinegar during the last minute of cooking.
Cut the eggplant, zucchini, and tomato into 1/8 inch slices. If your tomato slices and/or eggplant slices are significantly larger in diameter than the zucchini slices, they may be cut into half circles for tidier assembly.
Grease an 8x8 baking dish and spread the sauce in the bottom of the dish. Begin placing the vegetable slices vertically against one side of the dish, and work to create layers until the dish is full. We're not looking for a perfect pattern here--just a nice mixture that will allow the flavors to blend.
Brush the tops of the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt. Cover with aluminum foil, and bake for one hour, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes of baking.
To make the polenta, add the polenta, water, and salt to a small pot, and cook on medium heat for about 25 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed and the polenta thickens. If it begins to sputter, take the heat down. Stir in butter before serving.
To serve, top bowls of polenta with ratatouille, and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and fresh basil.