When it comes to food, the French know best. From the rich, creamy sauces to the fresh, succulent meats, French cuisine is hard to beat. But what makes French food so special? Let’s take a closer look at some of the key ingredients that make up this classic French dish.
Today, we’re here to talk ratatouille! And I don’t mean the movie, although the main character and I do both aspire to be professional chefs.
Ratatouille is a super versatile hashtag-tradish: it can be an appetizer, entree or side dish; it can be served hot, room temp, or cold!
You can do your own spin on it, even though more traditional French chefs will turn their nose up if it’s not the original ingredients of eggplant, zucchini, tomato and onion.
Personally, I throw in bell peppers, yellow summer squash and kalamata olives to really Jade-ify it. And I always want my dishes to entice visually before it even hits your lips so, I cut the veggies verrrry thin.
Podcast of Episode 2 – France
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
- 3 to 4 medium yellow summer squash (about 1 1/2 pounds), large dice
- 1 large bell pepper, large dice
- 1 large green squash, diced
- 1 cup kalamata olives
- 1 1/2 pounds eggplant (1 large), large dice
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 pound tomatoes ( 4-5 medium),
- 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced, plus more for serving
Watch EPISODE 2 – Chef Jade’s Journey – France!
Cut a small “X” into the bottom of 3 of the Roma tomatoes, and prepare both a pot of boiling water and a large bowl of ice water. Blanch the tomatoes for less than one minute, until cuts just begin to split up the sides of the tomatoes. Remove immediately and place in the ice bath, and allow to cool completely. Set aside.
Set a large stovetop gas burner to high, and place two bell peppers directly on the grate over the flame. Allow to char completely before flipping, and blackening on all sides. Remove from heat and cover with tin foil for about 5 minutes, until softened. Peel off skins and place in a high-powered blender or food processor, along with remaining tomatoes, the picked leaves of one rosemary sprig, thyme, garlic, onion, vegetable stock, water, kalamata olives, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Blend on high speed until completely smooth.
Preheat oven to 225°F. Using a very sharp knife, cut the remaining tomatoes into 1/8-inch thick slices, and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a mandolin, slice the squash into 1/8-inch thick slices, and stack on the baking sheet.
In a shallow roaster or casserole, pour a thin layer of the roast pepper mixture, and spread evenly. Begin shingling vegetables on top: eggplant, followed by tomato, yellow squash, and green squash – continuing the pattern around the edge of the roaster, letting each slice stick out less than 1/4-inch from underneath the following slice. Once the outside of the roaster has been lined with vegetables, repeat another layer inside, and continue until the roaster is filled with patterned vegetables. Finely chop the remaining rosemary, and sprinkle over top with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cut a piece of parchment paper to the size of the roaster, place on top of vegetables. Roast for 90 minutes, removing the parchment paper during the final 20 minutes of cooking.
Once vegetables are completely softened but still hold their shape, remove from the oven. Place a ring mold in the center of a large plate, and fill widthwise with vegetables stacked vertically. Place a layer of vegetables staggered horizontally over top, and slowly remove ring mold. Combine 1 tablespoon of the red pepper sauce from the bottom of the roaster with the remaining olive oil, and drizzle in a circle around the outside of the vegetable stack. Garnish with torn parsley and serve.