Please forgive me because this post is going to come off as entirely too enthusiastic. It’s just, I’ve hit a complete 180. I finally get this whole early fall thing- it’s downright magical. The colors are bananas! Mums are in season, stone fruit is still holding strong, tomatoes haven’t given up the ghost, and apples are angling their way to the forefront. Oh, and did I mention the colors? The whole world is awash in dusty pinks, burgundies, rich purples, and a multitude of greens. I feel like crying from the sheer beauty of it every time I walk into a market and I walk into markets a lot. It gives you an idea of how much mascara I’m burning through.
Enough about my new-found love interest. Let’s talk food. Today’s recipe is a celebration of the savory side of my new favorite season. These Ratatouille Pot Pies carry the full spectrum of seasonal colors. It’s almost a shame I covered their technicolored innards with Parmesan Buttermilk Biscuits…almost. These biscuits, while less colorful, are tender with an impossibly rich, moist crumb. Kissed with Dijon mustard and fresh thyme, these biscuits offer the perfect contrast to the light yet cozy flavors of a classic French ratatouille.
Now, I feel that it is somehow illegal to write a post about Ratatouille Pot Pies without mentioning the movie Ratatouille. It’s also completely unfair not to mention that the layout of the interior of these pot pies is a total rip off of Thomas Keller‘s version of Ratatouille (confit byaldi) featured in the movie. The traditional form of ratatouille is more of a stew than an art piece but when you live to photograph food, I’m afraid aesthetics will trump authenticity every time. And when you’re lovesick over the colors of the season, a muddy stew just won’t do.
While I didn’t go with the traditional Provencal version of ratatouille, I did stay true to the spirit of the dish. Like most peasant dishes, ratatouille is about using every last bit of each ingredient. So, nothing in this recipe, save the eggplant’s hat, wound up in the compost. All the vegetable trimmings and less than perfect veggie slices were cooked down to form a simple sauce to flavor my ornate vegetable slices.
This is the type of clever utilitarian cooking I’m constantly in awe of. I love the idea of transforming castoffs into something undeniably delicious. Aside from it being a smart economic move for your household, this thriftiness is all about respecting the resources you have. Energy and ingenuity went into producing the food, and that shouldn’t be taken for granted. We should eat everything we can. This is why I find Ratatouille kind of romantic. It makes my inner earth momma very happy. What did I tell you? This is a very overly enthusiastic post.
Before I leave you to tackle these Ratatouille Pot Pies, I should let you know that special equipment is required to make this recipe as pictured. Get yourself a mandoline. They’re scary but dead useful. They make something like homemade potato chips a breeze. The one other thing you’ll need is a glove. As I said before, mandolines are scary but gloves, like these, make them less so. For a klutz like me, these gloves may be the most important thing in my kitchen. It’s vital for keeping your fingers intact and fully functional when using a mandoline. I’m not affiliated with this brand, I’m just a big fan. With the disclaimers out of the way, let’s press on.
Celebrate everything that’s amazing about summer and fall at the same time. These Ratatouille Pot Pies have all the fresh flavors of summer with the perfect amount of cozy to stave off the autumn chill. In other words, these pies are pure between seasons perfection.
- 6 roma tomatoes, skinned
- 1 green zucchini
- 1 yellow zucchini
- 1 cousa squash
- 1 graffiti eggplant
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 sweet onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup white wine
- 2 teaspoons herbs de provence
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, divided
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- Honey for brushing
- Trim the zucchinis, squash and eggplant by 2-inches on either end. Set the ends aside and cut the remaining veg into thin medallions using a mandoline. Cover slices and set aside.
- Using a very sharp knife, cut four of the tomatoes into thin slices. Add the tomato slices to the rest of the vegetable slices.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy bottom skillet until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until translucent. About 3-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Cut the remaining tomatoes into quarters and add them to the pan followed by the zucchini, squash and eggplant trimmings. Cook until slightly softened. About 5 minutes.
- Add the wine and season with salt, herbs de provence and 1 tablespoon of thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the bay leaf, cover and cook for 20 minutes.
- While the sauce is reducing, preheat the oven to 450F.
- Once the sauce looks nice and jammy, remove it from the heat and, using an immersion blender, puree until smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Pour the mixture into a large food processor fitted with a dough blade. Add the cheese and remaining thyme and blitz briefly to mix.
- Set the food processor to low and add the butter cube by cube. Process until the mixture resembles a coarse meal.
- With the food processor still running, add the mustard. Next, stream in the buttermilk and process until a dough forms.
- Turn the dough onto a very well-floured surface - the dough will be quite sticky. Knead the dough briefly, then form into a square. Divide the dough into four even pieces.
- Pour 3 tablespoons of the sauce in the bottom of four onion soup bowls. Arrange the vegetables slices in a spiral formation. Spoon the remaining sauce over top of the vegetables slices and top with a biscuit.
- Place the bowls on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the pies from the oven and immediately brush the biscuits with honey and sprinkle with additional fresh thyme and sea salt.
- Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.