“You Should Only Be Happy” eating and watching “Ratatouille”
Now I have to admit, as I undertake a post about ratatouille, that I do not have the patience to make the beautiful tiered version that is depicted in the movie; I’m a good cook, but presentation is not my strong-suit. In fact, I prefer something that looks fairly rustic and handmade rather than something visually stunning, although I greatly admire those who have the talent to beautify food. I like knowing that a real human being was involved in the creation process. And ratatouille (pronounced rah-tah-too-EE in French vs. the Disney-fied rat-uh-TOO-ee) is an old country dish from Southern France, so it doesn’t even need to be beautified - the gorgeous colors from the fresh summer vegetables are enticing all on their own.
My ratatouille recipe won a contest sponsored by Recipe4Living.com back in the summer of 2007; it’s fairly authentic (I’m not a huge fan of eggplant so I leave it out, though you can always add it in or stir in some baba ghanouj if your heart is set upon doing so), and it’s ridiculously easy to make. Step 1: Go to the Farmers Market and buy an assortment of vegetables; alternately, gather the bounty from your own garden. (By the way, regardless of Merriam-Webster’s acknowledgement of the word, I do not use or condone the inane term “veggie” myself. Vegetables. Those beautiful things that grow in gardens and on farms, which are both nutritious and delicious, are called vegetables. But, as always, I digress .) Step 2: Chop the vegetables. Step 3: Cook the vegetables. Step 4: Savor the very essence of the summer harvest.
This recipe is vegan, and is also a perfect light meal to break the fast during Ramadan, which began this past Saturday the 22nd. It’s good warm, it’s good at room temperature. It’s delicious served over pasta or rice, tucked into pita bread or served alongside an entrÃ©e. This is a near-perfect dish, and will even win over vegetable haters: Jeremy dislikes most of the ingredients in my ratatouille, and yet was lured in by the amazing aroma and actually ate some when I first made it. That is all the endorsement I need!
So make a batch of ratatouille and eat it while watching the wonderful and charming movie as the beloved Julia Child would say, “Bon AppÃ©tit”!
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes 2 teaspoons kosher salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1 small red onion, peeled, quartered, sliced thin 6 large garlic cloves, peeled, minced 4 large or 6 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded, chopped into 1” pieces 2 6” zucchini, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4" slices 2 6” yellow squash, ends trimmed, halved lengthwise, cut into 1/4" slices 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, chopped 2 tablespoons herbes de Provence (available at gourmet markets) 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 1/2 cup red wine (or tomato juice or vegetable stock if you don’t want to use alcohol)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 minute, then add the onion and sautÃ© for 5 minutes until onion is softened. Add garlic and sautÃ© 1 minute. Add tomatoes, zucchini and squash; cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the remaining ingredients and bring just to a boil; turn heat down to low, cover, and cook for 20 minutes. Remove lid and cook 10 more minutes or so until most of the liquid has evaporated.
Mary Bilyeu has won or placed in more than 60 cooking contests and writes about her adventures as she tries to win prizes, feeds hungry teenagers and other loved ones, and generally just has fun in the kitchen. The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured next to the blog's title) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15, and is a wish for all her readers as they cook along with her ... may you always be happy here!