I will be honest, if I had never seen the advertisements for the animated movie Ratatouille, I would have probably have never known this word yet alone what was included in this French dish. That is not to say that I looked at any recipes prior to making this meal. Ratatouille is a southern French vegetable stew of tomatoes, onions, peppers, eggplant, zucchini and garlic cooked with olive oil served with rice, bread or pasta. There is some debate as to how to prepare and the exact ingredients that are to be used just as there is debate on the source of the word. I liken ratatouille to a peasant stew with a history that is far more humble than any research might discover.
What I knew is that I had some roasted Hatch Chiles and I was looking to make a pasta dish. It was only afterwards did I realize I made something similar to ratatouille. I also knew I wanted to make a pasta dish that did not use any tomatoes. Why? I wanted the flavors of the ingredients to come together without having to compete with the taste of tomatoes.
- 10 Roasted Hatch (Ananheim) Chiles (cleaned, seeded, membrane removed and rough chopped)
- 5 Roasted Red Bell Peppers (cleaned, seeded and rough chopped)
- 5 Whole Garlic (Peeled)
- 1 Large White / Yellow Onion (Diced)
- 16 Ounces of Sliced Mushrooms
- 2 Cups of Chicken Stock
- 1 Teaspoon of Sambal (optional, you can also use one whole hot pepper ~ cayenne)
- 1 Teaspoon of Sea Salt
- ½ Pound of Bay Scallops
- 20 – 24 Medium Size Shrimp (peeled and deveined)
Step #1: In a deep skillet heated with olive oil and a sea salt add the onions and garlic and sauté on medium heat until the onions are soft.
Step #2: Add the mushrooms and sambal (optional) and stir until all of the ingredients are mixed well together.
Step #3: Then add the two cups of chicken stock (broth). Then lower the heat to low and allow the ingredients to simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Stir occasionally so the vegetables do not stick and burn.
Ratatouille can be served with rice, bread or pasta and for this meal I decided to pair the stew (sauce) with rotini (pasta). After I put the pasta into the boiling water, I then added the peppers.
Step #4: Add the roasted rough chopped Hatch Chiles and Red Bell Peppers, and mix all of the ingredients together.
Step #5: Right before the pasta has been cooked el dente, I added the shrimp and bay scallops to the skillet and mixed all of the ingredients together.
Step #6: Once the rotini was drained, I added the pasta to the skillet and basil, increased the heat to medium and mixed all of the ingredients with the pasta to thoroughly coat the rotini with the flavors of the sauce.
The result was a spicy hearty pasta dish, full of roasted peppers with the sweetness of the shrimp and bay scallops and not once did I miss not adding the tomatoes. The dish may too spicy for most because I added the sambal before tasting the strength of the Hatch Chiles. I would recommend that before using the sambal, to taste the heat of the sauce prior in the event that the spiciness of the Hatch Chiles is more than enough. I think that one of the great ideas coming from Ratatouille is that any combination of vegetables can be brought together to make a great stew that can be served by itself or with rice, pasta or bread.
One of the more interesting facts about Ratatouille is that despite being a dish of French origin, all of the vegetables traditionally used are not originally from Europe. Ratatouille may be French, but the ingredients are more a fusion of Asia and the Americas.