Fancy Ratatouille Recipe

Friends Drift Inn Farm – Recipes

Ratatouille Recipes Inspired by Chef Thomas Keller

Today’s Appalachian News Express carries my version of what I call “Farmers Wife” style Rustic Ratatouille..

Chefs, Rats, and Hillbillies – Celebrating The Abundance

Ratatouille is not something in my food memory banks; though I am well familiar with all of the ingredients.Tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, eggplants, and summer squash are certainly vegetables I grew and ate since I was old enough to trail behind the adult gardeners with a pint size watering can.

I’m a big believer in traditions, and so when I stumbled across a “rustic” recipe for ratatouille, I embraced it as my own adding small revisions which seemed appropriate to fall in the Kentucky mountains. I really did not give it much thought, until I started digging into the chef hoopla of the last few years.

Chef Thomas Keller is one of the leading culinary giants of our time. His restaurant “The French Laundry” is known for integrating seasonal local produce into an ever-changing menu. I’m no expert on Thomas Keller, if you want to know more about him…there’s always Google.

What you should know, is chef Keller took a very lowly vegetarian dish fancied it up and made it the star, well the food star, of an animated movie “Ratatouille.” The story revolves around a rat, Remy, who aspires to be a chef in the great restaurants of Paris and a misfit young boy who by the end of the movie grows into an accomplished chef with the help of the rat. I know it sounds weird, but it’s a cute movie. If you have not seen it, you should.

To make the kitchen scenes authentic, chef Thomas Keller was called in to consult. Since there was the play on the word “Ratatouille” it was important the dish be memorable. Keller proposed what some call a “fan presentation” where the vegetables are spread out in a cascade of colors.It works for me, when I have time to fuss with such things.

Keller’s rendition caused quite a controversy in the food community. I know, here in the real world, we just want to eat. But chefs, they are a fickle lot….and there’s a certain sous chef that I still owe a good whipping to. But that’s another story.

I did not make this ratatouille exactly the way Keller does. I did however; fan the vegetables as best I could with my pitiful knife skills….attempting a beautiful dish. (My husband usually does the knife work, but he is off watching Jake play football.) So without further explanation, my fancy Hillbilly Ratatouille.

And for any “real chefs” who might stumble across this and grumble….get over yourselves. It’s just dinner.

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About Joyce Pinson

Joyce Friend Pinson is a regional farm-to-table columnist for the Appalachian-News Express. She is a local television host. Her column show and blog, Friends Drift Inn, explores food, gardening, and real life farm-to-table stories from the perspective of a baby boomer in Appalachia. Joyce has a background in agriculture, media, and small business. Joyce is an heirloom gardening addict and home canner. She has a penchant for big hats, pointy toed shoes, and bourbon. Along with her husband Charlie, Joyce really does live in a barn where they ballroom dance. And laugh. And cook. And giggle.