The meal we call ratatouille gets its name from the French word meaning “to toss or stir.” In our fifth week of cooking club, our young chefs certainly got to do a lot of tossing and stirring — and they had loads of fun doing it.
Ratatouille is often made as a stew in a pot, but our recipe was a sheet pan dish in which the vegetables are roasted in the oven and then served over quinoa. And what an array of vegetables! Zucchini, eggplant, onions, cherry tomatoes, garlic and red peppers, plus sweet smelling herbs like thyme, oregano and fresh basil. With a mix of reds, purples, whites and greens, this was a colorful as well healthful recipe, showing how meals can be as pleasing to look at as to eat.
“The eggplant is beautiful!” enthused Madeline Rookwood, who was wearing a purple apron to match. reds and purples and whites and greens can be pleasing with roasted vegetables. With all those vegetables, there was a lot of chopping to do, but a different kind than our chefs had done before. The onion and zucchini needed to be thin sliced in rounds and the red peppers cut into strips. Dariel Cordero and Yandel Vazquez, who have become great choppers, took on the zucchini and pepper, while Madeline, Magavi Cortes handled the eggplant and cherry tomatoes.
Madeline and Leah had fun picking the leaves off fresh thyme, and cracking “time” jokes when they learned the herb was pronounced like the time on a clock. (“I need more TIME…” Madeline said. “We’re running out of TIME… it’s TIME to finish!”). When the thyme was ready it was TIME to sprinkle it on the vegetables and Yandel and Magavi joined in, taking care to spread it evenly with the garlic and oregano. Then everyone had fun tossing the vegetables together with their hands (“your hands are great kitchen tools!”) and it was off to the oven.
When the veggies came out, everyone agreed “this smells so good” and couldn’t wait to try. “I like the onion and cheese,” Leah said. “I could eat the zucchini all day long!” added Magavi. But a surprise hit was the goat cheese. “I love this cheese!” Dariel said, asking for more. “It is so good with the lemon.”
Overall, the class seemed pleased to be gaining new skills and confidence in the kitchen. “This is my place of business!” Madeline said with a laugh.