Weeknight Ratatouille

Once a month we like to have a fancy dinner at home. Sometimes it’s a candlelight dinner. Other times it involves a special food such as steak or lamb. Other times it’s foreign cuisine. Most of the time it’s international food for a themed meal.

Last month my husband was in the mood for French food. Initially, you probably think French fries, French toast, or French vanilla. While each of those are tasty, that’s not exactly what he had in mind.

He chose roasted lamb with herbs de provence and ratatouille. If you have kiddos, then you are familiar with the animated movie Ratatouille about a talented chef mouse…which means your children will love to cook in the kitchen like the mouse did! (Preferably without any real mice involved…)

I used my handy mandolin to quickly and evenly slice up my veggies. I used what I had in my fridge, so don’t feel too trapped by this recipe: eggplant, yellow squash and zucchini. I’ve also used bell peppers and onions before.

The first step couldn’t be more simple. Saute slices of onion and garlic until translucent and aromatic. Then toss in tomato sauce. Place this mixture on the bottom of your baking dish.

Next is the part where your kids will be your kitchen assistants. Line the veggies along the dish (on top of the sauce with the onions and garlic on the bottom). Get creative with the design. This time I made simple rows, but other times I’ve done a swirl or a pattern.

If you’re teaching patterns to your young children, this is a practical exercise. I did eggplant, yellow squash, eggplant, zucchini, repeat.

Fill up the dish and bake for 45 minutes. Not only does this side dish look praiseworthy, it’s simple to prepare and will probably make your kids excited to get in the kitchen with you!

Weeknight Ratatouille
Get your kids excited to be your assistant chef! Allow them to make patterns and intricate designs with the sliced veggies. The best part is that they can’t mess up this side dish - as long as the veggies get into the baking dish, you’ll have colorful and nutritious ratatouille!
Ingredients
  • 1/2 onion cut into thin slices
  • 2 garlic cloves cut into thin sliced
  • 1 cup tomato puree
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • Salt and pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Slice the garlic and onion. Saute over medium high in a skillet with olive oil for 5-8 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

  2. Add the tomato sauce to the skillet and reduce to a simmer.

  3. Finely slice all of the vegetables using a mandoline to roughly 1/16 of an inch.

  4. Pour the warm tomato sauce mixture into the bottom of your prepared dish.

  5. Arrange the vegetables into a pattern on top of the sauce. (This is where your kids can get creatively involved!)

  6. Top the veggies with fresh parmesan, salt and pepper.

  7. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes, until the tomato sauce is bubbling and the veggies are tender.

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