Friday, July 13, 2007

Ratatouille: In Praise of Pixar

The boyfriend and I saw Ratatouille last week. Besides it being a cook/animation lover’s wet dream, it inspired a discussion afterward about Pixar movies in general. We surmised that they rule. Or, to expand a bit, we agreed that we’ll be watching Finding Nemo, Toy Story, and The Incredibles well into our ‘80s, while films like Shrek and Shark Tale will be obsolete by the next Olympics.

See, where most current animation relies on pop culture references and kitschy radio tunes, Pixar concentrates on story and character. In 2050, when no one will know what to make of a fish dancing to "Baby Got Back," Woody and Dory and Sully will still have emotions folks recognize and sympathize with. Their situations will resonate, and their reactions will still mirror real people, while Shrek and his pals are relegated to a time capsule with Bratz dolls, Paris Hilton, and wearing dresses over pants.

In honor of Pixar’s most recent winnah, I whipped up this Ratatouille dish from the February 1995 issue of Bon Appetit (via Epicurious). Don’t be fooled by the title – the chopping alone takes a good long while. However, when it’s finished, you’ve a warm, fragrant, peasant dish any cartoon rat chef would be proud to serve.

(Note that the cheese is optional, and leaving it out cuts the cost almost in half.)

Ratatouille on the Run
6 servings (Bon Appetit says ½ c per serving, but mine came out to about 1 c per serving)
Adapted from Bon Appetit/Epicurious.

2 Tbsp olive oil
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 large eggplant (unpeeled), diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 ounces goat cheese or Muenster cheese or a mixture of the two, diced (optional)

1) Heat oil in big Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic and cook about 1 minute, until fragrant. Add eggplant, green bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, zucchini and basil. Cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn heat to low or medium-low and cover. Simmer until veggies are cooked through and tender, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. (This took between 30 and 35 minutes for me. I think I had the stove on too low, though - Kris.)

2) Take cover off pot and reduce for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add vinegar and season to taste. (You can make this 2 days ahead of time. Just remember to refrigerate.)

3) Preheat oven to 350°F. Spread ratatouille in 9-inch pie dish or an 8x8 Pyrex glass dish. Top with cheese, if you like. Bake about 20 minutes, until center is heated.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
165.3 calories, 9.5 g fat, $1.67

2 Tbsp olive oil: 240 calories, 28 g fat, $0.15
4 large garlic cloves: 20 calories, 0 g fat, $0.20
1 large eggplant: 132 calories, 1 g fat, $1.41
2 green bell peppers: 60 calories, 0 g fat, $0.90
2 large tomatoes: 60 calories, 0 g fat, $1.64
1 onion: 110 calories, 0 g fat, $0.49
1 large zucchini: 50 calories, 0 g fat, $0.66
1/2 cup fresh basil: negligible calories and fat, $0.85
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar: negligible calories and fat, $0.20
4 ounces goat cheese or Muenster cheese: 320 calories; 28 g fat, $3.49
TOTAL: 992 calories, 57 g fat, $9.99
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 165.3 calories, 9.5 g fat, $1.67

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Kat said...

I just found this website and... and... I love you.

April said...

I'm debating on whether to try this tonight or put in on my meal list for this week. Either way I'm totally going to make it...and watch the movie while eating it. :)