Ratatouille

To ring in the new year of 2009, Tony and I traveled to Paris (the one in France, not Tennessee). It was fab-u-lous! I would go again in a heartbeat. Not that I didn’t already love great food… but it made me fall in love with food all the more. The night that we were supposed to leave Nashville, however, the flight to Philadelphia was delayed… which meant we could have never made the departing flight for Paris. So, we had to return home and postpone our trip until the next morning. It was devastating, but nothing we could do about it. We came home with some take-out for dinner and decided to watch Ratatouille (Tony had given it to me for Christmas that year) to at least feel as though we were in Paris. Silly, I know, but it was fun.

We have watched the movie several times since then, always wondering what actual ratatouille might taste like. In the spring of this year, we visited Napa. After falling in love with Paris and French food so many years ago, we love trying French restaurants wherever we are in the country. Our first night, we ate at Bouchon (in Yountville). We started with Rillettes aux Deux Saumons… and let’s just say that everything else was so fantastic that we had to purchase the cookbook. Maybe one day we will attempt to recreate some dishes, but it will serve more as a memory. On our last day (in our most beloved city of Napa), we had dinner at Bistro Jeanty. We simply couldn’t pass up another opportunity for French food! It was there that we tried ratatouille for the first time. We had even already ordered our food and then realized they offered it as a side. We were half-way through with our main dish when it came out, and it was better than I could have imagined. I think it’s like tiramisu, everyone makes it a little differently; so, we may just have to try it everywhere we see it. Last night we tried to make a version of our own, based on a recipe by Martha Stewart.

How we made it… Making use of our grill basket: we chopped squash, zucchini, mushrooms, onion and eggplant, and tossed them in the basket with olive oil, salt and pepper. Tony grilled them for about 15 minutes or so while the cavatappi was cooking. Tomatoes are important in ratatouille, and we remember the dish at Bistro Jeanty as being rich and hearty. But, in trying to make a lighter version than the restaurant and more saucy version than Martha’s recipe, we decided to create our own use of the tomatoes. I melted about 1.5 Tbsp butter in a saucepan and then added 2 roughly chopped tomatoes, chopped roasted red pepper and 2 cloves of garlic. I added salt and pepper, italian seasoning and a dash of white wine, and let it simmer for a little while. Just a few minutes before we were ready to prepare our plates, I added in some ricotta cheese (because I happened to have some in the fridge that needed to be eaten) and a small spoonful of sugar. I’m not quite sure how it compares with traditional ratatouille, but it sure was delicious! Here’s the finished product:

Tony and I are not very good at taking pictures… we really like them, but get caught up in experiencing the moment that we often forget to take a picture. We have traveled to some really wonderful places, and seem to disappoint friends and family by bringing back (1) pictures of everything we ate  or (2) only having 2 or 3 random pictures of very odd things, haha. So I thought I’d share one of our 3 pics from Paris and one of our 3 pics from this last trip to Napa…

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