I was planning to post a reaction to the Will and Kate baby announcement today, but at some point this afternoon I looked up from being totally absorbed in my kid and realized it was Tuesday. I literally chuckled out loud thinking, “Ha! When would I have possibly had time to try anything this crazy weekend?” Turns out, the day was still young. But don’t worry, that Will and Kate
rant post is still on deck.
I could go a lot of directions with this, but let’s just say, I’m not really into French culture or cuisine. My grandparents are Irish Scottish German English people. Not a lick of French in there. I never watched Julia Child, or if I did I didn’t know it… I was more of a Bob Ross kinda kid. And when I visited France I was 100% tourist and probably tried out their McDonald’s.
So this morning when my friend handed me a yellow squash and reminded me that I had a whole bag of tomatoes sitting on my counter I was torn between groaning and leaping at the possibilities.
In the end, I chose to brave the now-famous French peasant dish known as Ratatouille.
As I was researching some possible ways to make it (there are a billion, by the way) I found a recipe for a ratatouille sandwich. Basically vegetables on top of bread. I also found one for ratatouille that is actually baked with bread on the bottom as a crust, drizzled with herb-infused olive oil and topped with layers and layers of vegetables. Notice a theme? Needless to say, just in time I remembered that my one and only bread recipe I have and will ever use was for none other than…
French Peasant Bread.
A French-inspired meal that I actually had all the ingredients on hand for!! (except eggplant, but it’s ok… I’ve never been able to cook eggplant and I probably would have ruined the dish)
Because there are a billion ways to make it, I decided that however I made it was going to be fine. Yup. That’s how I roll. If there’s not a right way to do it, then any way is good. And let me tell you, it’s a pretty dish that can be as easy or complicated as you make it. I went the easy route.
First, of course, I thinly sliced up all my veggies. Two yellow squash, one purple onion, three ripe tomatoes, one red bell pepper… and two HUGE cloves of garlic. While I did this, a small bowl of olive oil was bathing with a whole bunch of dried herbs. I used thyme, basil, and (blasphemy) an Italian blend.
Next I spread a thin layer of tomato sauce all over the bottom of my pan (I cheated and used a little bit of jarred spaghetti sauce). Layered all my veggies in two pretty circles. Salted and peppered them real good and poured the olive oil all over the top.
Then I covered it with parchment paper and baked it for probably an hour at 350ish degrees. Yes. 350ish. I was baking peasant bread at the same time, so I just put the veggies in with it and when the bread was done, I turned it down.
The bread I’ll save for another post, but it is incredible and always gets rave reviews. Plus, I have the cutest little helper!
I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure if I would like this or not. Every time I’ve ever tried something with vegetables it hasn’t turned out as delicious and filling as I hoped. But this?
This was good.
This was creamy and packed with flavor. The tomatoes, which I thought would be a mushy mess, were sweet and juicy. The squash was soft and rich, covered in olive oil. And the onions had carmelized and softened in all the right ways. Not to mention that I loaded this puppy with garlic. Stay away from me for a few days.
But the star of the show… was the bread. Pile the veggies up. Sop up every last drop of sauce. Go back for seconds and thirds. And best of all, I hear it is GREAT the next day! I’ll let you know.
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