Ratatouille at Beauty & Essex

The “Beauty” of This Ratatouille

Traditional ratatouille is the epitome of Provençal stews, in which seasonal vegetables are cooked separately and then combined, seasoned and finished with aromatics. The version at Beauty & Essex (in The Cosmopolitan, cosmopolitanlasvegas.com) is in the nouvelle cuisine camp. Also known as confit byaldi, the dish is a play on the Turkish imam bayildi, or stuffed eggplant. A sofrito (the base sauce) is made with zucchini, squash, Japanese eggplant, tomatoes, onions, peppers and spices, which generously lines a casserole dish. Sliced vegetables are tiled in a spiral design, covered with a cartouche (parchment paper) and baked for an hour. Cooling overnight allows the vegetables to marinate in their juices, concentrating the flavor. The ratatouille is served hot, garnished with micro basil, Maldon salt, cracked black pepper and balsamic vinaigrette (for a touch of acidity). Ego, the food critic in the classic Pixar film Ratatouille, would be pleased.