Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Bakespace Challenge 2 - Ratatouille Lasagna
For our second bakespace challenge we had to recreate a dish from a movie of our choice. We were asked to put our own unique spin on it. This proved to be a difficult challenge since I could not find a movie right away. I really wanted to use Under the Tuscan Sun but there wasn't any close ups of the dishes or any discussions of what she made. I did finally decide on a movie that I could work with...Disney's Ratatouille. Ratatouille is a french vegetable stew that usually uses eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes. There seem to be many versions of this dish which is great for using whatever you have on hand.
To make my own spin on the dish I decided to make a lasagna layered with strips of zucchini and eggplant. I wouldn't call this a vegetable lasagna but I guess it could be considered that. I know vegetable lasagna to inclue spinach or broccoli but either way, I used veggies and it's lasagna. So call is what you wish! I didn't use ricotta in this dish because I wanted to concentrate on the flavors of the squash and not have it muted by a lot of cheese. Peppers are found in most recipes for ratatouille and I wanted to include them but not layered in the lasagna. This turned out to be my biggest problem. I rememeber seeing Rachael Ray make a roasted red pepper sauce and I thought that would be a great way to include the peppers. The idea sounded good but...nope...not so great. I used her recipe as a guide and used a jar of roasted red peppers. The result was a very tangy sauce that I really didn't care for at all. I think if I used my own peppers to flavor the sauce, it would have been much better. I love the flavor that peppers give the sauce when I make my mom's recipe for stuffed peppers (I'll have to share that with you soon.) I think the idea was good, the vegetables were tender but the sauce was a flop. If I had a chance to do it all over again I would make a marinara sauce and do everything else the same.
So the first thing I did was make the sauce. Here is a link to Rachael Ray's recipe if your curious. I used an onion instead of a shallot and I used three cloves of garlic instead of two. Basically, I made my regular sauce just added in some white wine and a jar of roasted peppers that I chopped in the food processor.
While the sauce was cooking I sliced the zucchini and eggplant on a mandoline. I used the 1/4 inch setting and made long slices. I also squeezed the juice and seeds from two small tomatoes and those I sliced by hand.
Next, I fried the zucchini and eggplant in vegetable oil and then drained them on paper towels.
I let the vegetable get lightly browned on both sides.
The next part was very easy if you've made lasagna before. I layered the vegetable between layers of no boil pasta sheets. Sauce on the bottom, sprinkle of romano cheese, three sheets of lasagna, more sauce, romano, eggplant, sauce, mozzarella. That was the first layer. It's important to use a lot of sauce because this is what actually cooks the noodles. Next layer was the same but I used the zucchini on this layer. Next layer was the top layer. On top of the pasta I added sauce, romano and mozzarella. I added the tomatoes here and sprinkled them with cheese.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 1 hour.
When I sliced it you can see that it's not as thick as traditional lasagna. That's because it didn't have the ricotta. It still looked pretty on the plate and the vegetable were nice and tender.
So even though the recipe wasn't perfect, I'm proud of the way I put it together. Like I said, I would absolutely try this again without the roasted red pepper sauce.