Ratatouille originated in France as a “peasant’s food”, where all the less-than-fresh vegetables (that poor people could afford or get for free) would be cooked together to make a vegetable stew. Today, however, it’s seen as a bit of a delicacy.
What I love about making Ratatouille, is you can literally use all your vegetables that aren’t so fresh anymore and make a dish that is delicious, filling and healthy! Ratatouille is great when you eat it fresh on the day of making, but is also a wonderful left-over meal and perfect for the freezer! You can serve it as a main dish, with some toasted bruschetta or pasta; or as a side dish.
See notes for baking Ratatouille
- Time: 1 hour – 1 hour 30 minutes (It depends on how long you let it cook)
- Serves: 4 as a very generous main
- Difficulty: Medium (It’s not difficult, but does require some effort and time)
What you’ll need:
- 1 Large eggplant/aubergine
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Large onion (Sliced)
- 2 cloves garlic (minced)
- 250 grams courgette/zucchini/baby marrow
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 can tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- A few sprigs fresh thyme
- handful fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
What to do:
- Prep all your vegetables: slice the Eggplant, courgette and bell pepper in approximately 1cm slices. Clean and slice the onion and mince your garlic.
- Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot. Add half the eggplant and cook for 2 minutes on each side. (Until softened – you’ll see the colour changing and pips becoming more visible.) Remove from pot, add more olive oil and repeat with the rest of the eggplant. Remove and set aside.
- Heat the last tablespoon of olive oil in the same pot, and saute the onions until they become slightly translucent. Add the garlic and bell pepper. Saute for approximately 2 more minutes.
- Add the canned tomatoes, sugar, chili flakes, thyme, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. Let cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the aubergines and courgettes.
- Bring the heat down to a medium-low, and let simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stirring every 10-15 minutes (don’t stir too often, or you’ll start breaking the vegetables).
- Taste and add more seasoning as needed. Let simmer another 15 minutes.
- Before serving, add the chopped basil leaves and stir through.
Serve with a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese on toasted bruschetta, or on a bed of tagliatelle pasta. You can also serve it as a side to a roast or other cuts of meat.
- The longer the Ratatouille cooks, the more flavour will develop. 30 minutes is the minimum, if you have the time, let it go for at least an hour.
- You can bake ratatouille in the oven, if you’d like the use of passive time:
- Pre-heat oven to 200C. Make a tomato base by cooking half the onions and garlic in olive oil; and when translucent add the canned tomato, sugar, thyme, balsamic, salt and pepper. Cook for at least 10 minutes.
- Prepare all the vegetables the same way as in recipe above.
- In an oven safe baking dish, spread the tomato sauce at the bottom of the dish. Layer all the vegetables (including onion) on top of the sauce and season.
- Cover the dish in foil and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for a further 15 minutes.