It’s ok to admit that the holidays are stressful. It’s also ok to pretend they’re not and end up crying in the fetal position on the pantry floor, biting your fist to suppress involuntary screams while your guests sip eggnog and judge your home décor. But fear not - I have a foolproof recipe that not only pleases crowds, but is unique, fun, and impressive. Best of all, the work gets done in advance, so you can get ready while it chills, then simply bake and serve once company arrives!
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Ratatouille Wreath! Adapted from a tart that I’ve served to a few hundred diners in my restaurant, it features ingredients from the classic French dish that we all came to know after seeing the beloved Pixar movie. Most of the traditional ingredients are included (the onions, garlic, tomatoes, and basil are all in the tomato sauce I use), but the few that are omitted (bell peppers and fresh herbs) can be added if you’d like. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting!
This recipe is simple and enjoyable to make with kids, especially since the result tastes very much like a pizza. I even got a positive response from my boyfriend’s picky teenager! Nothing better than an easy dish that brightens holiday parties AND gets everyone to eat vegetables. Bonus: it’s inexpensive, too - each wreath is only about $8 worth of ingredients!
Enjoy year round, not just in December. When you see all the text in the recipe, don’t freak out - I’m just trying to be as detailed as possible. It really is incredibly simple. If you have any questions about the process, there’s an instructional video below!
The Seasoned Cynic’s Ratatouille Wreath
Feeds 4-8 as an appetizer or side dish
Puff pastry, homemade or store-bought, thawed but chilled
Smooth tomato sauce containing onions, garlic, and basil***
A couple tablespoons of soft goat cheese (chèvre), chilled and crumbled
Roughly 1/4 of an eggplant
1 small zucchini
1 small yellow summer squash
Salt and black pepper, to taste
A couple tablespoons of olive oil
Olive oil baking spray
A couple splashes of soy sauce, optional
Silpat or parchment paper
Dinner plate or large bowl - approx. 11 inches across
Small bowl or mug - approx. 4.5 inches across
Sharp paring knife
Heat the oven to 400*F or 425*F. Thinly slice the eggplant, zucchini, and summer squash, then toss them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and soy sauce (optional). Keeping each vegetable separate from the others, lay them out in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast until softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool - you don’t want to add hot squash to cold puff pastry!
Using a rolling pin, roll the chilled puff pastry out to roughly 11 x 11 inches. Place an upside-down dinner plate or bowl that’s about 11 inches wide on top of the puff pastry and use a sharp paring knife to cut off the corners, leaving you with a perfectly round circle. Remove the plate or bowl, then gently transfer the puff pastry to a Silpat or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Doing so now will save you a headache later - it’s very difficult to move the wreath once you start making it!
Once you’ve transferred the puff pastry to your cookie sheet, use an upside-down bowl or mug that’s about 4.5 inches wide to INDENT a circle in the center of the large circle. Do NOT cut through - just indent! Use a sharp paring knife to carefully cut the inner circle into even triangles: slice down the center, then from side to side, then once in between each quarter to make 8.
Spray or brush the entire surface of the puff pastry with olive oil. Use a small spoon to make a circle of smooth tomato sauce inside of the outer circle to form a ring. There should be an even amount of blank pastry on either side of this ring - the sauce shouldn’t be too close to the inner circle with the triangles or to the outside. You want a centered ring within the outer ring. Trying to see how many times I can write the word ring.
Crumble your chilled goat cheese evenly around the top of the sauce.
Add your roasted and cooled eggplant in an even layer on top of the goat cheese and sauce.
Top off the eggplant with a shingled layer of zucchini and yellow squash, alternating by color.
Crown your perfect circle of filling with an even layer of sauce, keeping to the center to avoid ending up with a messy wreath.
Spray or brush the remaining exposed puff pastry with olive oil, then attach each inner triangle by wrapping it over the filling and snuggling the tip down under a gently-lifted part of the outside pastry. Your wreath should now look like the photo below the recipe!
Give the entire wreath one last coat with olive oil, then chill it right on the sheet pan for at least 30 minutes or until ice cold/firm. You can also freeze it to speed up this process - the colder, the better.
Transfer the pan directly from the fridge or freezer into the oven and bake at 400*F or 425*F for 20-30 minutes, or until puffy and golden brown.
Allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before portioning and serving. Excellent hot, room temperature, or cold, making it the perfect holiday appetizer or side dish! Feel free to serve on a bed of fresh greens like arugula or baby kale. Sometimes, I garnish my wreaths with Sweety Drop peppers, which bring the classic peppers back into the dish and are adorable, festive, and delicious. Enjoy!
***The sauce I use is my own - I make it through my specialty foods company, Fond Originals. It’s for sale on Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/TheSeasonedCynic. I do not expect you to buy mine, so simply grab a delicious sauce from the store, preferably one that contains onions, garlic, and basil! If it’s not smooth, run it through a food processor or blender to get the consistency you want for this recipe.
For a fun variation, try a new take on a brie en croute! Swap out all the Ratatouille ingredients for jam, thin wedges of brie, pecans, and fresh berries or apple slices. Use butter spray instead of olive oil spray, and enjoy.