Why I Love This Recipe
This is my adaptation after the Disney film's presentation, which is based on the dish presented by Thomas Keller at the French Laundry called Confit Byaldi WHICH, in turn, is based on a recipe created by Michel Guérard called "Confit Bayaldi" sometime around 1976 WHICH he based on a Greco-Turkish dish called Imam bayildi, consisting onions, garlic, and tomatoes stuffed into an eggplant and then simmered in olive oil. Whew!
This dish is a labor of love, prep takes awhile as well as the actual cooking time... The idea is to first steam the vegetables then roast them to get the most flavor development.
If you have a food processor with a 2mm slicing blade it will make this alot easier, I have never had good luck with mandolins. No matter how expensive they were I always end up throwing them out cause they annoy me and don't work. Especially on things like Eggplant and Jicama. You can really mix up the bell peppers if you like, using white, purple, orange or even the new plaid strain becoming available.
Ingredients You'll Need
1/4 cup Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil (Look for fruity and with a pepper bite)
1 Cup Diced Yellow Onion
1 1/2 cups Diced Roma Tomatoes (Only the flesh, no seeds)
1 Red Bell Pepper, Cut into strips
1 Yellow Bell Pepper, Cut into Strips
1 Green Bell Pepper, Cut into Strips
Bouquet Garni (3 springs thyme, 4 sprigs of parsley and a bay leaf, either tied with a string or wrapped in a leek leaf)
1/4 tsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Sweet paprika
1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flake
Freshly Ground Pepper
1 1/2 cups 2mm sliced Green Zucchini
1 1/2 cups 2mm sliced Japanese Eggplant
1 1/2 cups 2mm sliced Yellow Squash or Yellow Zucchini
7 small Roma Tomatoes, Blanch, Peel and slice as thin as possible
1 TB Garlic, Minced
2 TB Extra Virgin Olive oil (The good stuff again)
2 tsp Balsamic vinegar
3/4 tsp Thyme leaves, minced
Kosher Salt and Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 275 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet or saute pan aove low flame
Add onion, all peppers and the bouquet garni.
Sweat for about 10 minutes until the onion & peppers begin to soften, add the roma tomatoes, sugar, paprika and the red pepper flakes.
Continue cooking over low flame for another 15-20 minutes or until most of the liquid has reduced out of the pan.
Remove the bouquet garni and season with Salt and Pepper.
Pour/Spread the mixture into the bottom of a 13 inch baking dish or an au Gratin pan.
Begin at the oustide edge of pan and arrange the sliced zucchini, eggplant, squash and tomato slices over the onion/pepper/tomato mixture overlapping and alternating as you go to create a spiral pattern.
Maek the balsamic vinaigrette by combining minced garlic with thyme, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
Whisk briskly until emulsified.
Drizzle the sliced vegetables with 1/2 of the dressing.
Cut a piece of parchment to fit inside the rim of the pan to cover the vegetables, or use a tight fitting lid. (If you are using a metal baking pan, DO NOT use aluminum foil. The acid in the tomatoes will create an electric current (I am not kidding) between the 2 metals wherever contact is made. Your "tin" foil will come out of the oven with little holes in it and you will have aluminum in your food. This is only due to the long cooking time over exposing the reactive aluminum)
Bake the vegetables for about 2 1/2 hours.
Remove the lid and check the vegetables, they should be softened, or rather steamed and almost cooked through.
Return the pan to the oven without the cover and roast the vegetables until tender, another 20-30 minutes.
Serve dirzzled with the remaining balsamic vinaigrette.
Ratatouille is even better on the second day as it gives the flavors a chance to fully develop. So cool to room temperature before refrigerating and simply re-warm in the oven at 250.