This is THE classic French dish that everybody knows. Ratatouille is a vegetable stew in a quite rustic style with no glamour at all to it. Originally. That changed since the similarly named Disney movie aired in 2007 where Ratatouille was served in a Michelin Star restaurant version. And didn’t we all like the chichi on that beautiful arranged ratatouille. The ratatouille style with thinly sliced vegetables placed on a piperade (sauce of baked peppers) is called Confit Byaldi and was invented by Thomas Keller. He also was the culinary consultant for the Disney movie (more details after the recipe).
I was fascinated by this dish the moment I saw it. One of the most humble and simple dishes was reinvented by pure creativity. I had to cook it by myself. And in this post I want to show you how to cook ratatouille in Confit Byaldi style at home.
Ingredients and Preparations for Ratatouille
- 2 Courgettes/Zucchini
- 2 Yellow Squash (not crucial if not available)
- 2 Egg Plants
- 2 Red Onions
- 4 Tomatoes (colourful if available)
- 1 Bunch of Thyme
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
For the Piperade
- 2 Bell Peppers (red)
- 3 Tomatoes (peeled & seeded)
- 1 Clove of Garlic
- ½ Onion
- 1 small Bay Leaf
- Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
For the finish you can use a Vinaigrette. But that is not a must have. If you want to make one, the ingredients for the original vinaigrette are:
- 2 tbsp olive oil (extra vergine)
- 2 tsp white balsamic vinegar
- fresh herbs: thyme, thyme flowers and chervil
Mix them up thoroughly and give your ratatouille a nice little finish with it.
- Kitchen knife
- skillet or sauté pan
- blender or stick blender
- baking tray or large ovenproof dish
Mise en Place (to do before cooking):
- Peel the 3 tomatoes for the piperade.
- Peel garlic and onion.
- Sort and wash the herbs
- Bundle up the herbs for the piperade. Use equal amounts of thyme, oregano, rosemary and majoram until you have a nice little bunch. tie them up so they stick together.
- Cut the vegetables (courgettes, yellow squashes, eggplants, onions and tomatoes) into 3mm thick slices
- Preheat the oven at 140°C / 280°F
How to Cook Ratatouille Confit Byaldi
- We start off with the Piperade. For that the bell peppers have to get peeled. Cut them in half, remove the seeds and put them into the oven at around 230°C/450°F. Take them out after 15 minutes and leave them to cool down. You don’t want to burn your fingers at peeling. Peel all the skin off and chop them (around 5mm).
- Place your skillet or sauté pan onto your stove at medium low heat and put in your olive oil, crushed garlic and the cut onion. Let it fry for some minutes until very soft but still light in colour. Your don’t want to get a hard roast because that would make the garlic turn bitter.
- Add tomatoes, bay leaf and the bunch of herbs and let it start to simmer. Reduce the mixture for 10 minutes at low heat. Remove the bay leaf and the bunch of herbs from the mixture before the next step.
- Put the reduced mixture with the roasted and peeled peppers into a blender and give everything a good mix until it is creamy smooth.
- Season the piperade with salt and pepper and spread it equally over your baking tray.
- Now arrange your sliced vegetables on top of the piperade alternating from their type and overlapping, so that 1cm of each slice is visible and not covered by the next slice. Make this arrangement in horizontal or vertical rows until the whole tray is covered. You probably will not need all of your vegetable slices. Drizzle a little bit of olive oil over the vegetables and add a pinch of salt on them. In the end it should somehow look like on the picture below.
- Cover the baking tray with foil and roll it up around the edged to seal it well. Put the tray into the preheated oven and let it your ratatouille bake for 75 minutes. Then remove the foil from the tray and let it bake for another 30 minutes.
- Take the ratatouille out of the oven and let it cool down for 10 minutes. Carefully take the vegetables out with a tablespoon or a spatula and plate them. Use the piperade either to cover the vegetables or let them sit on.
The Classic and the Modern Ratatouille Style
The dish of braised vegetables isn’t just nice it also has its origin in Nice. Ratatouille went “viral” in the early 20th century. What you might not have noticed, Ratatouille is originally a vegan dish. A vegan dish from France? Yes! So you can guess, that back in the early days it was a poor peoples recipe made from vegetable leftovers.
Nevertheless Ratatouille is a classic recipe that every chef should know and a palate pleaser if you do it right. Especially made in the version of Thomas Keller (3 Michelin Star chef from the USA and owner of the Restaurant “The French Laundry”). He invented the Ratatouille Recipe called “Confit Byaldi” that was shown in the Disney movie. For Confit Byaldi you do not cut the vegetables roughly for a stew. Instead you slice it thinly and prepare it like a casserole. Placed on a sauce of baked peppers (called piperade) those slices are piled up to a savoury petit four. Just as beautiful as delicious.
I hope you could get motivated to try this ratatouille recipe at home as well. Let me know how it turned out or ask questions if you got stuck at any point. I’ll be pleased to help. Hope to get plenty of feedback from you. Until then, enjoy your ratatouille and keep on cooking!