Monday, August 29, 2011
A Ratatouille Gateau for Your Picnic
There’s still time for a summer picnic, which is good news since I have something rather shocking to tell you ... my family has not gone on one picnic yet this summer! Nope, not a one. We’ve had many al fresco meals in our backyard but for some reason haven’t pulled out the picnic basket. I’m rather bewildered thinking about this fact, but we’ll remedy it at once! I love our picnic basket. As I lift the lid to fill it, I see the perfectly arranged wine glasses, knives and forks strapped in to their spots (there’s even a cute little set of salt and pepper shakers) and recall fun memories of past picnics. Not that you need a basket to go on a picnic, just good food and a warm day. For our picnics, we enjoy heading to one of the beaches along Lake Washington. Trees and the sound of water provide a relaxing backdrop to our meal.
Our picnic food usually includes cheeses, breads, fruit, veggie sandwiches or quiche, perhaps deviled eggs and a sweet treat. Wanting a different type of veggie dish, I created this Ratatouille Gateau. Ratatouille, mixed veggies and basil mayo are layered between herbed crepes and stacked in a springform pan for easy transporting.
I am a big fan of ratatouille, especially since it's most flavorful if served room temperature (and tastes even better if made the day before). Lots of zucchini are growing right now, so this is a terrific way to use them. For this ratatouille, I roasted all the veggies in order to bring out more flavors. The crepes are adapted from a recipe in Gourmet magazine for homemade manicotti. I reverse the order of instructions for the ingredients (makes mixing easier and no need to push through a sieve) and add thyme.
All of the components can be prepared ahead of time and then the gateau assembled right before heading out the door. By the time you reach your picnic destination, the gateau will be room temperature and ready to enjoy. See you at the beach!
Gateau Fillings (Ratatouille, Basil Mayo and Veggies)
1 medium globe eggplant, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 zucchini, sliced lengthwise and chopped in 1-inch pieces
1 yellow pepper, roughly chopped
1 red pepper, roughly chopped
5 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 red onion, chopped into 1-inch pieces
10 cloves garlic, sliced lenthwise
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided plus more to drizzle
1/2 cup tomato puree
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle a little olive oil and use a pastry brush or paper towel to coat bottom. Spread the eggplant in a single layer. Give a quick drizzle of olive oil over the eggplant and toss a bit (or use a Misto sprayer). Roast the eggplant for about 20 minutes, until it is browning on the edges and soft. Pour eggplant into a large mixing bowl and set aside.
Add another light slick of olive oil to the bottom of the baking sheet and spread the peppers, zucchini and tomatoes on in a thick single layer. Drizzle a little olive oil and stir around. Roast the veggies for about 25 minutes, giving them a stir a couple of times. Add the veggies to the eggplant.
Again, add a little olive oil to coat the baking sheet and spread the onions and 10 sliced garlic cloves to pan. Roast for about 15-20 minutes, giving a stir and making sure garlic doesn't burn. Add to the mixing bowl with eggplant and other veggies.
Give all the ratatouille veggies a stir and mix in the tomato puree. Season with salt and pepper to taste. At this point, the ratatouille can be covered and chilled until ready to use.
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 cup mayonnaise (homemade is wonderful, but for this Vegenaise or Hellmans will do just fine)
To make the basil mayo, combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, basil, lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Whiz until smooth, scraping down the sides once. Add the mayo and pulse until combined. Chill until ready to use.
1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
In a medium saute pan, pour in 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms, cover and steam for about 7 minutes until soft and liquid is released (turn down heat if mushrooms are sticking). Stir and add the asparagus. Stir, cover and steam for about 4-5 minutes until asparagus is soft. Remove from heat and set aside. You can chill these veggies, too, until ready to use.
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 1/2 cup warm water
3 eggs, room temperature
Butter for making crepes
In a medium mixing bowl, add the flour, salt and thyme and stir together. Slowly pour in warm water and stir until combined. Add the eggs one at a time and stir each one in until just combined.
Heat a 10-inch nonstick crepe pan or frying pan over medium high heat and brush with a little butter. Pour 1/2 cup measure of crepe batter in and tip pan to swirl and coat bottom. Cook for about 30 seconds until set then flip and cook the other side for about 30 seconds. Remove the crepe and make 5 more. Crepes can be stacked with parchment paper layered in between. Watch your heat while making and be prepared to turn down a little if the crepes are setting too quickly and you can't spread the batter thin enough.
Mix the basil mayo with the asparagus and mushrooms. Place a crepe in the bottom of a 10-inch springform pan. Spread 1/3 of the ratatouille on the bottom and top with a crepe. Spread 1/2 of the basil veggie mix on and top with a crepe. Spread the next 1/3 of ratatouille, top with crepe and then the last 1/2 of the basil mayo and veggies. Layer with a crepe, add the last 1/3 of the ratatouille and place final crepe on top. Wrap the springform pan tightly with foil to transport to your picnic. Once there, pop off the side, slice and serve.