Ratatatouille has always been a favorite dish of mine (and I enjoy pronouncing it with my best French accent)–but honestly, I consider it a bit of a pain in the you know where to prepare. I have terrible luck with mandolines, and usually not nearly enough patience to use my chef’s knife to thinly cut a ton of veggies for dinnertime, I usually just find myself opting for another meal instead. And this is unfortunate, because to my tastebuds, ratatouille is really, really good. The way the eggplant, peppers, and zucchini merge into one deliciously fragrant explosion of flavor is quite crave-worthy.
But the prep. Ugh the prep. Last year I practically sliced off one of my fingers using a mandoline, so I haven’t been enthusiastic about picking mine up again ever since–even though I bought (and now use!) a pair of those fancy finger saving gloves. And, with two hungry kids and a hardworking husband, slicing the veggies by hand is daunting, and the finished presentation alone is just not enough to convince me to tackle the elaborate dish when I could just throw all the veggies (diced) in a pot and call it stew. Many times, I just gotta draw the line for practical family friendly meal prep–especially after I’ve been cooking all day–and, stew is less fussy. So I haven’t made ratatouille for dinner in a while.
Until recently, after KitchenAid (the maker of my most favorite standmixer ever) gifted me with a powerhouse machine that easily tackles ratatoullie and so much more * . It comes with a blade that slices veggies from thin to thick and a 3 in 1 ultra wide mouth opening for super fast and beautifully even vegetables. Oh yes. I love this thing.
I’ve owned and adored 2 kitchenaid food processors in my lifetime, and this is the best yet. I’m pretty sure it’s my new favorite toy. Or, I may even go as far as to say it’s my new best friend. The KitchenAid ExactSlice Food Processor is a 13 cup monster that is capable of making an entire meal with never having to clean the machine between steps (which makes end cleanup a breeze because you can just soak all the parts after you are finished) because it features a 13 cup bowl as well as a small insert bowl for small jobs like finishing sauces or pesto.
My favorite feature of this machine is its ability to control the thickness of the slices, just as if you were cutting vegetables by hand–except they are flawlessly even and I was able to slice a 12 inch Japanese eggplant in 2.3 seconds flat.
I had all the veggies for this ratataoullie sliced so fast I wasn’t even thinking about the sauce yet. Lucky I had roasted the tomatoes and garlic bulb the day before–so I just inserted the smaller bowl and went to work on the sauce, which was done equally as fast as the veggies. Before I knew it I was creating a beautiful spiral of rainbow colored vegetables and garnishing them with fresh thyme and oregano. 1 hour later, fini Ratatouille.
While the dish cooked, I rinsed the small bowl and made some Tuscan Style White Bean Dip and enjoyed it with the leftover chopped veggies that didn’t make it into the food art. Ah, la belle vie.
How it’s done:
Preheat your oven to 400 °F. Roast the tomatoes and garlic bulb (drizzled with a touch of olive oil) for 45 minutes to 60 minutes, or until skins on tomatoes are very wrinkly and darkened, and the garlic is caramelized and fragrant. Remove from the oven, let cool and then remove skins from the tomatoes and the roasted garlic cloves from the bulb.
Decrease your oven temp to 375 °F. Slice the eggplant, zucchini, red pepper, and carrot into even slices, about 1/6 to 1/4 of an inch thick.
In a food processor, blend the roasted tomatoes and garlic along with the tomato paste, sea salt and 2 tablespoons olive oil until very smooth. Spread 3/4 of the sauce into the bottom of a lightly oiled ceramic oven safe dish. Arrange the sliced vegetables into a spiral ring, alternating the colors to create an eye-catching pattern. Drizzle with olive oil (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) and the remainder of the sauce. Top with fresh thyme, oregano, black pepper and smoked salt.
Top with a layer of parchment paper to cover and bake in preheated oven for 55 minutes. Let cool and then serve alone or on a bed of mashed potatoes, quinoa, forbidden rice, or your favorite grain.
* KitchenAid provided me with the ExactSlice Food Processor, but the opinions about the product are all mine. I seriously do love this machine.