Treat your special someone to a night in with this sexy French-inspired menu.
I know it’s a stereotype but I don’t think there’s a cuisine more romantic than French. The simple and tasty food cooked with heart, soul and that little touch of fancy that makes this food special. This month I’d like to share with you some of my favourite French recipes which I’ve given the Smiling Chef twist. So invite your special someone over, dig out the fancy plates and cutlery, splurge a little on some quality wine and enjoy a romantic dinner for two! It’s sure to put a smile on your loved one’s face. Although the Disney/ Pixar film referred to it as ‘Ratatouille’, this beautiful arrangement of vegetables is more correctly known as a Tian. In essence, both Ratatouille and Tian contain the same ingredients, but it’s the extra time taken to arrange the vegetables that will really put a smile on the face of your loved one. Look for vegetables that are the same thickness, so that when you slice into them, the discs that you cut are the same size.
Prep Time 20 mins | Cooking Time 40 mins | Serves 2
- 250g Roma tomatoes
- 200g Lebanese eggplant
- 200g zucchini
- 200g yellow squash
- olive oil
- 100g red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp thyme leaves, washed
- ½ cup tomato pasta sauce
- ½ cup water
Slice the veggies. Thinly slice the tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and squash into rounds with a sharp knife. Alternatively you can get a more precise disc using a mandolin slicer, or the attachment on your food processor.
Fry the base. Heat the oil in a cast iron frying pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook, stirring for 5-10 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
Layer it up. Spread the pasta sauce in the base of a round ceramic baking dish. Spread the onion mixture over the sauce. Starting from the edge of the dish, carefully layer your vegetables starting with a piece of tomato, then eggplant, then zucchini, then squash. It’s better if the veggies are packed tightly – they will shrink a little during the cooking process and this ensures that their shape is held. When you have formed a ring around the outside of the dish, continue this pattern to fill in the centre.
Bake. Pour the water over the vegetables and cover the dish tightly with foil. Bake in an oven at 180ºC for 20-30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Serve hot or warm.
Writer’s note: A version of this article was first published in Grapeshot Magazine Issue 6|Volume 6| September 2014: Sex.
Happy Cooking and Keep Smiling,