I first made a version of this pasta ratatouille for my standard 8 (yes, I’m so old that that’s what I call it) home economics practical exam. I know I’ve talked about taking home ec. in high school before, and then I saw this article from the Dallas News shared on social media Bring back home economics class because our kids lack basic life skills, and was like yes, yes, yes – seen by many as an “easy out” at the time, I learnt many things that I still use today.
Back to the prac exam, I remember the big trick to getting it right being in the roux and the cheese sauce – nice thick sauce, no lumps. So to make a cheese sauce you melt butter/marg, add flour and whisk (this is the roux), then add milk and stir continuously until thickened (trick 1) . Trick 2 is to remove from the heat before stirring in the cheese. Some more tricks I’ve picked up since then (that I view as useful life skills):
– for butter and margarine the weight and volume are roughly the same i.e. for the cheese sauce 25 g butter = 25 ml butter
– ⅛ cup = 30 ml = 2 tablespoons
– 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs = 1 teaspoon of dried herbs
– add a teaspoon of mustard to white sauce or cheese sauce for a lovely rich flavour
Pasta ratatouille makes a great meat free monday option and packs in 5 different veggies, I guess 6 if you count the tomato paste, and I’ve found the noodles and cheese sandwiched around all those veggies has really helped to sell husband and toddler.
- 250 g tagliatelle
- olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 teaspoon crushed garlic
- 3 zucchini, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 3 baby aubergine, diced
- 125 g portabellini mushrooms, diced
- ⅛ cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon dried oreganum or 1 tablespoon fresh
- 25 g butter or margarine
- 50 ml flour
- 1 cup milk
- ½ cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- salt & pepper, to season
Pasta: Cook the tagliatelle according to the package instructions, drain and transfer to an oven-safe casserole dish.
Ratatouille: In a pan heat oil and saute onion and garlic until soft. Add zucchini, bell pepper, aubergine, mushrooms, tomato paste and oreganum. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Gently saute to cook to just tender but not mushy.
Cheese Sauce: Melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan. Add the flour and whisk to form a roux. Add milk and stir continuously until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in mustard, grated cheese and season with salt and pepper.
Assemble: Spoon the ratatouille over the pasta and top with cheese sauce and bake at 180°C for 15 minutes.