Ratatouille

 

 

When I accidentally walked to the music building this evening, forgetting that A Capalla practice was very canceled, I carried my brand-new kitchen journal. It is a hard covered notebook decorated with printed succulents. As I sat in the practice room, wondering why I was alone, I wrote out how I made Ratatouille for dinner with my partner. It wasn’t really Ratatouille; it was more of a modified Confit Byaldi. I illustrated the potatoes, tomatoes, and butternut squash sliced open and layered in the casserole dish.

 

I recently read through Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Kinsley, and fell in love with the rounded, surprising illustrations. They took the main stage of the graphic memoir on food and blew open my understanding of personal history. 

 

I’ve started my kitchen journal to acknowledge the importance of food in my life. When I layered the vegetables in the saucy casserole dish, my fingers felt so slender and graceful that I didn’t notice the split nails with chipped polish or the abundance of hair on my arms.  I knew my partner was watching. We shared the tiny, warm, apartment kitchen, reveling in the pink feeling of Valentine’s Day. I wrote out my recipe so I remember that moment: the gracefulness and the pink feeling, and later the light of candles glimmering off of the wine glasses she borrowed to set the table looking alive for me. 

 

Ratatouille 

(A modified Confit Byaldi for college students)

Serves 4

Ingredients  

  • 3 plump and firm tomatoes

  • About 4 potatoes

  • The long head of a small butternut squash (cut off the round base and save it for something else)

  • A 16 oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes

  • A beef bouillon cube

  • ½ tbsp. Italian spice mix

  • ½ tbsp. Garlic

  • 2 tsp. of red wine vinegar

  • ½ stick butter

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

 

(this recipe can easily be made vegan by using vegan bouillon and olive oil instead of butter)

 

  1. Preheat Oven to 375. Locate a 9x5 casserole dish, tinfoil, and a small pot.

  2. Slice all the veggies very thin, making sure to skin the squash first and keep the vegetables separated.

  3. Prepare sauce by melting 1 tbsp. of butter in the small pot. Add garlic and Italian spice mix. Add tomatoes, including the liquid in the can. Dissolve bouillon cube in ½ cup water, add to pot. Add red wine vinegar. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 10 minutes. Taste the sauce as you go. Not salty enough? Add more. 

  4. Pour sauce into casserole dish, making sure not to fill it more than halfway. Layer in vegetables by leaning a slice of squash against the edge of the dish and building forwards with a slice of tomato, and then a potato slice, repeat to finish the row. Fill the whole dish with rows! Drizzle 1 tbsp. Of melted butter over vegetables once finished, add salt and pepper. 

  5. Bake for 40 minutes covered in tinfoil, and then 20 minutes without. Enjoy with salt and pepper to taste (and maybe some shredded parmesan cheese).

 

Quick Tip: Don’t be afraid of salt! This recipe has a lot of vegetables packed in it and they all need seasoning.