Ratatouille

If there’s one thing we enjoy eating, it’s Ratatouille. This versatile dish can be served hot, warm or cold as a side dish to any food, as a meal in itself served with warm chunky bread, as a delicious sauce for pasta or in a pasta bake, and even liquidized into a tasty soup, again served either hot or cold.

I used to prepare this often many years ago but it was always a faff as aubergines (eggplant) and courgettes (zucchini) had to be salted, pressed and allowed to drain before you could cook them because they were always bitter. Modern cultivars don’t have this problem. I also stopped because the recipe calls for bell peppers but I avoid eating them because the skins, whether raw or cooked, are difficult to digest. Yes, they can be peeled by roasting or flaming until black and then scraping away the skin – but that’s messy and time consuming.

Nowadays, none of the above preparation faff is required, and like many of my recipes, no precise quantities or weights are needed. I work on the simple measure of roughly the same amount of each fresh vegetable.

Add sliced or crushed garlic if you want. Ratatouille can be cooked in the oven or on top of the stove in a saucepan but I find roasting adds to the flavour.

Ingredients

1 aubergine
1 courgette
1 onion
1 can of tinned tomatoes (any sort) and/or fresh tomatoes
1 jar of cooked red peppers (3 to 4 peppers depending on size) (or any colour fresh deseeded bell pepper, if preferred)
Oregano, parsley, ground pepper, paprika, nutmeg, balsamic vinegar (optional), olive oil, pinch of salt

Visit my Handy Tips & Hints Page to learn how to easily open a lidded jar.

Method

1) Dice onion, aubergine, courgette and fresh tomatoes (if used) into approx equal bite-size pieces. Place in roasting tin or saucepan and toss gently in approx 1 tbs of olive oil.
2) Drain and cut up red peppers. If using fresh, deseed and chop to roughly same size dice as the other veg and add to the tin.
3) Pour over contents of 1 can of tomatoes. Add tbs balsamic vinegar and water to the can, mix and swill the can, add to the vegetables.
4) Add herbs and spices, gently turn to coat everything.
5) Roast at approx 150 deg or equivalent until tender. Test after approx 40min. There is no precise guide as to how long it will take but do not overcook or else the veg becomes too soft. Pieces should remain whole but soft enough to bite into.
6) Finally, check seasoning. I sometimes add a little sweet chilli sauce and/or tomato ketchup to spice up if required.

Serve either hot, warm or cold.

The cooked ratatouille will keep in a covered dish in a refrigerator for several days but it is not suitable for freezing unless liquidized.

To turn into a delicious soup, add another tin of tomatoes or passata as required then liquidize. Check seasoning before serving. Serve cold or hot with whatever takes your fancy. A swirl of creme freche or cream and croutons goes well.

 

 

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