Remember Ratatouille? There was a time when I made it almost every week, but it has since fallen by the wayside. It's funny, but since starting this blog I have been reminded of many recipes that I used to make a lot but have not made recently. For some there may well be good reason for that, but many more of them are great stock recipes and it's a shame if they get forgotten.
This dish sprung to mind because I had some courgettes to use up. There were some in the organic veg box I have delivered and also managed to grow some on the allotment. It's been so long since I made ratatouille that I had to check I remembered correctly how to. Which is when I found this article in which Nigel Slater laments "When did ratatouille disappear? I can't remember the last time I saw it here, but in France it can still be found on many a menu." So I am not alone in thinking that it's a pity this dish has fallen out of favour, at least in the UK.
A Ratatouille - a versatile dish
Apart from being easy to make, ratatouille is also a really versatile dish. As a student I used to serve it as a pasta sauce - cheap and cheerful. But you could just as easily serve it as a main casserole dish with a few chunks of crusty bread or spooned over creamy mashed potatoes - Yum. Ratatouille also makes a great side dish with cooked meat or fish - a tasty change to the usual veg.
Step by step Ratatouille
- about 4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
- 2 onions peeled and cut into thin wedges
- 4 – 6 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 small or 1 large aubergine cut into bite sized chunks
- 4 courgettes sliced
- 3 red or yellow peppers seeded and cut into chunks
- 12 fresh tomatoes cut into wedges
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- handful of fresh basil leaves
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan and sauté the onions over a medium heat until softened and beginning to colour, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic to the pan, then add the aubergine and courgettes. Drizzle with a little more oil and continue to cook for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring frequently until they have softened slightly.
- Add the peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, then stir to combine. Cover and cook over a low heat for 30 minutes stirring occasionally until all the vegetables are tender.
- Taste and add more salt and pepper if required. Tear the basil leaves into pieces and stir into the ratatouille. Serve from the pan or transfer to a warm serving dish and scatter a few small whole basil leaves on top.
If you use other herbs add with the tomatoes.
Ratatouille freezes well for up to 6 months.Nutrition information is approximate and is meant as a guideline only. (It does not include seasoning with salt and pepper.)
Hints, tips and variations
At the moment fresh tomatoes are cheap so I have used them in this recipe. When they are more expensive, I would use a tin or two of plum tomatoes instead. Although I think it changes the character of the dish slightly, they are both good. Fresh tomatoes make for a lighter, fresher tasting dish, whereas tinned tomatoes make it more casserole-like, thus perfect for serving with pasta.
You can vary the quantity of vegetable to suit what you have. I have often omitted the aubergine and just used courgettes instead. Perfect if you have a lot of courgettes to use up.
Fresh basil is delicious - tomato and basil is such a good combination - but you could use other fresh herbs such as thyme and oregano, or pop in a bay leaf or two. I have even added dried mixed herbs when I don't have any fresh ones to hand.