I feel bad calling myself a cooking enthusiast since I had not even heard of ratatouille until I saw the Disney movie. After seeing a rat prepare it, I thought, “I could do that.”
But then, a lot of time went by. (A LOT of time. I just checked, and that movie was released in 2007 – yikes!)
So seven years later, I got my act together and made a decision to prepare this undoubtedly delicious meal for my in-laws, who were visiting from New York. I learned the basic gist of the recipe, and I was only feeling a little apprehensive about being able to pull it off.
But then, I was totally sidelined. The power of suggestion is absurdly effective. One second, I am happily going about my day thinking about trees and flowers (not really, just trying to make a point here), and the next, I see a commercial for pizza and suddenly, that is ALL I WANT.
As I was preparing for ratatouille-making, a friend happened to mention having had a delicious coconut curry dish at lunch.
Well. I’ll be damned. I LOVE coconut curry.
So, since I was already feeling overwhelmed by the recipe, I made an effortless decision to swap out the sauce for a coconut curry tomato sauce.
I’ll tell you – it was an amazing decision. This dish does not disappoint, and was a hit with my in-laws (at least that’s what they told me) 🙂
Quick Disclaimer: If you don’t own a mandolin, this recipe is still possible to make – it just might drive you crazy. Make sure you have a sharp knife, at the very least!
What You Need for the Ratatouille:
- 1 medium zucchini squash, ends cut off
- 1 medium summer squash, ends cut off
- 1 large tomato
- 1 each red bell pepper, green bell pepper and yellow bell pepper, tops cut off and de-seeded but still bell-shaped
- 2 cups dry Jasmine or white rice
What You Need for the Coconut Curry Sauce:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalepeno, minced (seeded if desired)
- 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced (powdered ginger will also work fine)
- 1 1/2 tbsp curry powder
- 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes and their juices (this is equal to 3 1/2 cups diced tomatoes if you wish to stay away from canned foods)
- 1 14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
What You Do:
Preheat oven to 400F
In a large wok or skillet, pour in the olive oil and lightly simmer the onion, garlic, jalepeno and fresh ginger until soft. (If you only have powdered ginger, add it later).
Add the tomatoes and curry powder (also add ginger powder if using). Turn heat up to bring to a slight boil and stir well.
Add the coconut milk and sugar, stirring well. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.
Set aside, but keep warm on low heat.
Using a mandolin, thinly slice all of your vegetables. As I said, if you don’t have a mandolin, you can get away with cutting everything by hand. Try to make very thinly-sliced pieces. Thicker pieces really only impact how long the dish will take to cook.
Layer the vegetables in alternating order along the bottom of a large baking dish or dutch oven. Each time you complete a layer, spoon about 1 cup of the still-hot coconut curry tomato sauce over the veggies.
Continue layering and alternately pouring with sauce until the veggies have been used up. Depending on the size of your baking dish, you may find you have vegetables left over. This is ok! They make great snacks, after all!
Pour remaining sauce over the top, gently poking apart the vegetables to let it seep through.
Cover, and place the whole concoction into the oven for about 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened and are easily pierced with a fork. You may find it takes slightly longer depending, again, on the size of your baking dish and thickness of your layers.
While the dish is baking, cook your rice according to package directions.
When everything is ready, serve the ratatouille over the rice and enjoy! It’s where French cuisine meets Indian cuisine, right? Bon’ appetite!
Pro Tip: If you have leftovers and want to re-purpose the meal to try and pull a fast one on your family, simply pulse the ratatouille (without the rice) in a food processor with a small amount of vegetable broth to turn it into soup! Make it as chunky or pureed as you desire, and add the rice after for some additional texture.