Something that a lot of people may not know about me is that 1. I actually love to cook and 2. I originally wanted to go to culinary school, from there I landed in PR. People don’t know I actually love to cook unless they follow me on Instagram (@jess_eme get there), I guess because I didn’t start to cook anything other than my mom’s regular dishes until I lived on my own and really had nothing else to do. But I’ve always been fascinated with food and the thought of creating something delicious people rave about, I specifically remember that conversation with my poppop. So when deciding on a major before college, I thought I’d go to culinary school, or major in restaurant management. I figured my bubbly personality would be awesome in this industry, and then my mom told me to look into public relations and I feel in love. I love to write, and representing a brand has become my passion. So now you know those two things!
I also watch very few movies. I don’t know why, once I like a movie I’ll just watch that over, and over again. I think because of my love of food and the idea of being a chef, I fell in love with the Disney/Pixar film Ratatouille. I know it’s odd to admit, but I also thought their Ratatouille dish looked delicious, but really it’s just the work of amazing writers that manage to make an animated food I’ve never tried seem incredibly appealing. I was determined to not only try ratatouille, but Ratatouille’s Ratatouille, that every, all those other animated characters eating a rat’s food, raved about.
So in August when fruits and veggies were fresh and abundant in New Jersey, I figured I would tackle this recipe and to my surprise I found an adaptation that was inspired by the movie! You can only imagine my excitement. When my mom planned to visit on a Friday night, there was no question as to what I’d be making her.
In a deep ceramic pie place, the dish starts with a thin layer of marinara sauce and I added chopped onion and garlic, salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. This gave the dish a great base, prevented the veggies from sticking, and allowed them all to soak in some delicious flavor.
For my vegetables I used a purple eggplant, red pepper, and yellow and green squash. VERY carefully I sliced my veggies thin and then lined them all up in the pie plate, topped with a drizzle of olive oil and some more salt and pepper. After covering with aluminum foil, I baked with my over at 275 for about one hour 30 minutes, uncovered, and then broiled on low for a few minutes.
If you’re not a veggie person, this obviously isn’t the dish for you, but to me this dish not only smelled amazing and filled my little beach cottage with an amazing aroma, it was perfectly filling. I loved that I could eat as much as I wanted without really feeling guilty. My mom loves salmon so I made brown sugar and black pepper glazed salmon filets, and topped my ratatouille with some homemade ricotta cheese (more on these another time!). I think this dish would also be great over rice with some steak or chicken! I made this in late summer because everything was very seasonal, but I think it’d definitely a dish to be made all year round. I know I’m looking forward to cozying up in the winter with my nice warm veggies!