Aubergines were on special offer the other day, and since Kipper loves them so much, I couldn’t leave them in the shop. I didn’t really have any idea what I was going to do with them, but inspiration came in the shape of my organic box, which contained (among other things) romano peppers and a large courgette. Ratatouille, then.
I love ratatouille. It’s so mediterranean. Regardless of the weather here, one mouthful of this luscious vegetable stew, and I’m sitting in a cafe on the French riviera, basking in the sunshine and watching yachts on the horizon. OK, maybe I exaggerate a little. But it does brighten a grey day, and it is very easy to make.
The other great thing about ratatouille is its versatility. We ate it hot as a main dish. However, it works equally well as a side dish, or as a chunky sauce for white fish or even cauliflower. Then, when the leftovers have gone gone, it makes a fabulous salad – perfect on a mezze platter, or just piled on top of humous for a light lunch. Yum. (Consider it on a jacket potato for Pesach – with or without the humous according to your tradition. Delish!)
Traditionally, ratatouille doesn’t have any olives in it. This is an oversight by the Provencal locals, I think. The ratatouille is delicious without them, but occasionally coming across a nugget of olive-yum makes it even more fabulous. For me (and Kipper) anyway.
Oh yes, Kipper and I have been watching the film Ratatouille in instalments for months (mostly because every time we sit down to watch a bit she insists on going back to the beginning). When I told her what was for dinner, she got all excited, but her joy turned to crushing disappointment when she realised we were going to EAT ratatouille rather than WATCH Ratatouille. Fortunately, the olives went some way to remedying the situation.
This made enough for four generous main course servings, or two and a small person, plus a medium plastic-boxful of leftovers to eat cold with humous.
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 1 large courgette (250-300g)
- 1 large aubergine (300-350g)
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed.
- 1 red pepper
- 1 green pepper
- 2 tsp herbs de Provence
- 0.5 tsp ground black pepper
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 1-2 tbsp stuffed olives, halved
- Peel and chop the onion. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat, add the onion and fry for a few minutes until softened.
- Cut the courgette in half lengthwise, then slice into cm thick pieces. Add to the pan.
- Dice the aubergine and add to the pan with the crushed garlic. Mix well.
- Deseed the peppers and cut into chunky pieces. Add to the pan with the herbs and black pepper. Stir to combine and cook for a few minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes plus 100ml of water. Mix well and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the vegetables are softened.
- Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Leave to stand for 20 minutes. (You can skip this step if you are in a hurry, but it does allow the flavours to meld together deliciously.)
- Reheat over a low flame and stir in the olives.