For some reason, to me, shoving a pan of veggies in the oven & watching them at once caramelise on top, but also squidge down into a lovely stew-thing, feels like less work than a pot on the stove. Illogical I know, there’s still a pan to wash up, and you still have to take it out of the oven to give it a stir every now and then, but there you are.
Traditional ratatouille is made by stewing the vegetables on the stove , but I think that this sometimes ends up being a bit watery, and you run the risk of the aubergine/eggplant not cooking down to a lush squishyness.
So, instead of going with the ‘less work’ to do idea to convince you to try this recipe, let’s go with the amazingly lush flavour you end up with. It’s worth turning the oven on for, especially in late summer when the courgettes just keep on coming, and coming, and coming… and the 20 tomato plants you excitedly planted are now bearing all kinds of wonderful gifts, way too many for just tomato salads.
N.B. I’d like to be able to say that this time I have created a recipe using almost all my own home grown ingredients, but for some reason we have yet to grow a single aubergine this summer, despite 4 very healthy looking plants in the greenhouse. ( Seriously, they are enormous, I don’t know what gives. I might start charging them rent if they don’t give me an aubergine soon). Luckily, aubergines are cheap and plentiful at both the market and the Turkish/Cypriot greengrocer I’ve discovered near(ish) to me right now.
The important thing with this recipe is to first of all bake the aubergine and peppers in some olive oil, this ensures that they are fully and thoroughly cooked, so you run no risk of a chewy under cooked aubergine piece. Seriously, no one wants that. In fact, I would guess that most people who claim they don’t like aubergine have been victims of an under cooked, slightly bitter aubergine experience, which is just so sad as they are so lush when cooked properly.
Once made, you can use the Ratatouille as the basis for a pasta dish, to serve over rice or eat it at room temperature as part of a mezze/tapas type spread. Like all stews, it’s better the next day, once the flavours have become acquainted with one another
- 1 large Aubergine chopped into 3cm cubes (eggplant to you Aussies & Americans!)
- 2 medium Courgettes , cut into 1cm chunky half moons (Zucchini to my Aussie/US mates)
- 2 long red pointy peppers or 1 large bell pepper cut into 3cm squares
- 3-5 garlic cloves , diced
- 1 onion , finely diced
- 1 fresh red chilli (optional & totally non traditional, but very nice)
- Around 500g fresh tomatoes , grated skins discarded or 1 tin tomatoes
- 1 bay leaf
- 4/5 sprigs thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- Olive oil
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- A splash of red wine (again, totally optional & non traditional, but yummy nonetheless)
- Fresh parsley and/or basil , to serve.
Preheat your oven to 220C/ Gas mark 7.
In a deep baking dish or roasting pan, put the aubergine & peppers slicked with olive oil, Bake for 15 mins, then mix them up a bit to ensure even baking and cook for a bit longer.
Add all the other ingredients into the pan.
Continue roasting for at least 20 -30 mins, stirring every now and then to mix the delicious caramelised bits in and allow more parts to cook through.
If the Ratatouille is looking a bit wet, leave a bit longer in the oven. It should end up resembling a thick stew.
Once ready, stir in any fresh herbs then serve over rice, as a pasta sauce or as a side dish.