I’m sure most people will think of the Pixar movie when someone mentions ‘Ratatouille’, and I must say that it’s the movie as well that inspired me to make this recipe today as I never used to eat ratatouille at all. But what is ratatouille exactly? It’s a traditional French provencal stewed vegetable dish originating in Nice. It’s only made of vegetables so it’s suitable for both vegans and vegetarians but I assure you that as a meat-eater myself I did not miss meat in this at all! It’s an extremely popular meal to eat around the Mediterranean coast as it’s such an easy dish to make.
There are a few main ways of cooking this recipe: you can either stew them all in a big pot, some prefer to stew only the aubergine and courgette and layer them in the oven afterwards. I’ve gone for a third approach however: we only make the layer of sauce in a pot and then slice up all the other veggies and layer them in a casserole to be cooked in the oven.
No matter which way is your favourite, they are all equally easy to make and the flavours will be great no matter what you end up going for. Even though this is usually eaten in the Summer, we can enjoy this meal from May until October, while aubergines, European tomatoes and courgettes are in season in Europe.
I’ve kept the herbs for this dish very basic and limited: thyme, parsley and basil for the casserole and herbs de provence for our tomato base layer. I used fresh parsley and basil and both dried and fresh thyme, but the fresh one is optional. A lot of recipes also called for salt and pepper but I left them out as I didn’t feel like they were all that necessary and I must say that the flavours turned out perfectly! The whole dish tasted very fresh and was full of flavours.
You can server this with couscous (my personal favourite), pasta, rice or potatoes: it really goes well with everything!
Serves: 2-3 people
- 2 shallots
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 400g chopped tomatoes
- 2 red paprika’s
- 2 large tomatoes on the vine
- 1 courgette
- 1 aubergine
- 2 teaspoons or herbs de provence
- 1 teaspoon of dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon of dried thyme
- fresh parsley and basil: just a few of each
- Optional: a few pieces of fresh thyme
Needed: large casserole, mine comes from the Aisling Collection from Carraig Donn
There’s two parts to this dish: the bottom layer of tomatoes an paprika’s, and then the layer of sliced up veggies. Let’s start with our layer of tomatoes. Slice up onions very finely and do the same for the paprika’s, as small as you can get them. Heat up olive oil in a sauce pan and add crushed garlic and our sliced up shallots. Once they start to glaze, add our paprika. Let them simmer for a few minutes and then add chopped tomatoes and herbs de provence. Continue to simmer for about 5-7 minutes and try to mash the sauce (mostly the tomatoes and paprika) a little bit with your spoon.
Now that our sauce is ready, add it to the bottom of your casserole. Slice up the courgette, tomatoes and aubergine in slices. Try to get them all the same thickness, and don’t make them either too thin or too thick. Too thin will cause them to burn, too thick might take forever to get done! About half a centimeter should be ideal.
Layer them up on top of the sauce and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Sprinkle a bit of the dried thyme and rosemary on top and add fresh thyme if you have some. Cover the casserole with tin foil and pop it in the oven at 200° for 45 minutes.
Remove the tin foil after 45 minutes and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Once ready sprinkle some chopped fresh parsley and basil on top and enjoy!
Book tip September 2016: Nourish Bowls | Ballymaloe Irish Beetroot »