By Stephanie Arenas
The 2007 animation film “Ratatouille” left a lasting impression on my childhood.
It’s story-driven, cleverly imaginative and most importantly — visually appealing.
The scene that stuck with me most was when Anton Ego, a brutal food critic, tastes chef rat Remy’s ratatouille dish, which then transports Ego back to a childhood memory.
I have always craved real life ratatouille since then. But I just never had the opportunity.
While under quarantine, it hit me one day that I could just cook the dish myself. The recipe I followed was taken from YouTube’s “Binging with Babish.”
The recipe begins with blanching three tomatoes for 30 seconds each, then peeling and letting them rest in some ice water. While the tomatoes rest, you roast a red pepper, yellow pepper and orange pepper over your stove until blackened (peel the black until it’s gone).
Then, get your blender ready, as you are going to blend your three tomatoes, the peppers, two garlic cloves, a quarter of a white onion and some vegetable stock. Once the sauce looks smooth, you are good to go.
Now it’s time for everyone’s favorite part. Grab one yellow squash, one green squash, one eggplant and a few tomatoes and begin slicing them into thin circles.
Side note, I do not own a mandolin so I had to cut the vegetables by hand. If you are interested in making this dish, I recommend buying a mandolin as it will give you the thinnest slices possible!
Once you are all done, grab a baking pan and pour in a thin layer of your sauce from earlier. Then begin layering the vegetable circles on top of one another, alternating between vegetables.
When that’s all done, chop up some fresh rosemary to sprinkle on top, along with some olive oil, salt and pepper.
Set the oven to 225 F, top the dish with a layer of parchment paper and leave in the oven for 90 minutes.
When I took the dish out of the oven, it smelled heavenly. The rosemary along with the smell of the cooked vegetables created such a cozy and warm atmosphere.
The true test of this dish, however, was the flavor. Does it live up to the hype from the film?
To answer that, yes. Yes it does. One may believe the dish in itself seems bland and boring because all it is is vegetables.
However, when the vegetables are baked in the homemade sauce, it creates a mind-blowingly magical flavor. The sweetness from the tomatoes compliment the spice from the sauce well. The eggplant and squash adds a rich taste when seasoned generously with the rosemary.
The dish is a rollercoaster of emotions. You are hit with flavor after flavor — sweet, spicy, tangy, you name it.
When I took my first bite, it felt as though I was actually in the movie being served by Remy himself.
Although the process is long, it is totally worth the flavorful wonder in the end.