Never be afraid to mix your vegetables up. The word ‘ratatouille’ is a French creation meaning ‘a jumbled stew’. Whilst aubergine (eggplant), courgette, peppers and tomatoes are the more common ingredients, it is also great with olives, celery, lemon and even artichoke hearts. If you’re not mad keen on aubergines, try swapping with portobello mushrooms. They have a strong, earthy flavour and a meaty texture and give a darker, richer hue.
For a richer, slightly sweeter tomato flavour, try a few dried tomatoes sliced up and added to the raw ingredients.
Olives that have been preserved in brine add a slight tanginess. My preference here would be black olives but that’s all a matter of personal taste, green would work just as well if that is what you prefer. For something a little sharper, try lemon peel. Try to avoid the white pith, as this can leave a bitter aftertaste.
I did a bit of a search around the interweb to see what I could find out about this rich, textured and colourful dish and was disappointed to discover that even sites dedicated to history mention the Disney Pixar film about a rat with gourmet tastes. As a budding vegan, the last thing I want is a rat in my stew thank you very much!
I haven’t used precise measurements for this recipe because the balance of vegetables is down to personal taste and availability. Do use fresh herbs if at all possible, it really does make a difference to the overall taste.
Makes 4-6 portions.
I got six portions out of this but I know that I’ll be adding more stuff to whatever I’m turning it into. I would say that for a smallish family, 4 portions is reasonable.
- 2 medium-large aubergines (eggplants)
- 3-4 average sized courgettes
- 4 peppers (bell or Romano; any colour)
- 1 large onions (or 2-3 smaller ones)
- 6-8 tomatoes
- 3 cloves of garlic (I like garlicky food. Reduce or increase according to personal taste)
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- A bunch of fresh herbs (I like thyme and rosemary)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Turn the oven on to 200°C
- Chop or mince the garlic.
- Chop the vegetables roughly into bite-sized pieces
- Roughly chop the herbs.
- Put everything into a large roasting pan
- Toss everything in the oil and cook in a hot oven for approximately 40 minutes.
- Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before dividing out into containers.
For an extra dose of goodness, scatter toasted pine nuts, or mixed seeds, on the ratatouille. Serve with garlicky green beans and fresh, nutty, wholemeal bread.