Dinner and a Movie
Growing up our family routinely had Friday Night Family Night which often consisted of dinner and a movie. That was back in the day when renting a movie required driving to a store, combing through shelves of actual VHS tapes, and finding the video that was just right for that night be it comedy, suspense, musical, or whatever else would strike our fancy. Looking back, those are still some of my fondest memories. We’d sit down in our living room, each in our appointed favorite spot, grab the food, dim the lights, engage our willing suspension of disbelief, and just enjoy. We’d laugh together, get scared together, sing along with the songs, and spend the evening simply being together as a family. After the movie, my dad, Mr. Twenty Questions himself, would always have something to ask us, usually a thought-provoking query that led to a great discussion. They were good times.
So good, in fact, that I’ve tried to carry on that tradition with my own family. Each Friday night we gather around our computer, find our appointed spots, dish up our food, and cue up a movie. Our kids are young so we’re not quite to the post-film deep discussion stage yet but I have found immense pleasure in watching our kids watch a movie. Do you know what I mean? I love to see my son jump up and yell at the screen because he’s so thoroughly in the moment, I delight in their gleeful peals of laughter, and my heart swells just a bit when we all start singing along to the songs.
Most Friday nights our dinner of choice to accompany the movie is homemade pizza but sometimes we opt for a theme to tie in with our movie. Not long ago we dined on spaghetti and meatballs while watching “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” – slightly messy but pretty fun. So I was pretty excited when my son asked if we could have ratatouille while watching “Ratatouille” one night. I looked up a recipe and then patiently waited till all the vegetables required were in season.
The recipe is crazy simple. The hardest and most time-consuming task is merely slicing vegetables. I opted to slice by hand as opposed to using the food processor because I wanted the slices just a bit thicker than my blade would cut. This is a purely vegetarian dish that can be served with couscous, pasta, rice, or, as we chose, a thick slice of fresh bread. In my opinion, the cheese is what really makes this dish. I shaved fresh Romano, parmesan, and mozzarella cheese on top once the ratatouille was plated. I also found a drizzle of good olive oil on top did a lovely job of enhancing the flavors.
It’s worth noting that the recipe actually made two full 9×13 pans. We gave one pan to some friends and six of us devoured the other pan with only one tiny serving left to mix into an omelet the following morning. If you’re feeding a crowd or if you like leftovers, I’d recommend leaving the proportions as is.
Whether you choose to sit down with a movie or go old school and eat around the table, I hope that this meal might be enjoyed on an evening spent simply being a family.
Be sure to check back TOMORROW when I’ll share with you our favorite recipe for homemade pizza, just in time for Friday Night Family Night!
The Home Grown Mom’s Ratatouille
1 lb. zucchini
1 lb. squash
1 bell pepper
1 large tomato
4 stalks of fresh basil
2 6-ounce cans of tomato paste
2 tsp parsley
2 tsp thyme
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 ½ ounces fresh parmesan
2 ½ ounces fresh Romano
4 ounces fresh mozzarella
- Slice all vegetables into thin discs; wing it with the bell pepper. 🙂
- Pour one can of tomato paste into the bottom of a 9×13 pan, add 1 tsp parsley, 1 tsp thyme, and 2 Tbsp. olive oil per pan and mix.
- Layer the vegetables in rows, alternating as you go and interspersing fresh basil leaves.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper the size of your 9×13 pan, place the parchment on top of the pan and cook in 375° oven for 45 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
- Dish in bowls with parmesan and Romano cheese shaved on top and a pinch of fresh mozzarella on the side. Serve with pasta or bread and enjoy.