I have rediscovered ratatouille!
I have always loved the this melting pot of ProvenĂ§al vegetables like aubergines, courgettes, peppers, tomatoes coming together to give a simple, homely yet toothsome result of ratatouille. I liked the simplicity of this one-pot dish: wash, chop, mix, cook. VoilĂ ! Or so I thought…
In preparation to our French holiday, I have recently been reading more and more about the French cuisine. This has been a great journey in itself, book by book, website by website, recipe by recipe. A journey through various regions of France, various traditions as well as fresh, novel ideas, various cooking and presentation styles. A delightful, multidimensional journey combining geography, history, tradition and taste.
As a result, I have rediscovered ratatouille! Turns out, that by giving every ingredient individual attention and cooking them separately, you’ll achieve a dish with much more character and flavour. It does take a little longer, but if you can afford spending a bit more time on this dish, it’s absolutely worth it. You’ll transform your ratatouille from a regular vegetable stew into a delicious melange of vegetables, each with strong individual character, that create an incredible synergy of tastes. And they look so much more appetising this way too!
Once you try it, there is no way back. Here’s my new and improved way of creating the ratatouille.
2 onions, quartered
4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 aubergines, cut into chunks
2 courgettes, sliced
3 red or yellow peppers, seeded and quartered
4 ripe tomatoes, thickly sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
2-3 thyme sprigs
Handful of basil leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a large, heavy based pot. Add the quartered onions and cook for 3-5 minutes until soft. Add the sliced garlic cloves and cook for another 2 minutes until soft.
Using a slotted spoon, take out the onions and garlic and transfer to a clean bowl.
Repeat the process with other hard vegetables (aubergines, courgettes and peppers) adding a tablespoon of olive oil at a time and cooking each of them separately for about 5-10 minutes until soft and gold and transferring to a large bowl once ready (you can keep all of them in the same bowl).
When all the vegetables are cooked, transfer them back to the heavy based pot. Add thickly sliced tomatoes and thyme sprigs and season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix gently and cook for about 15-20 minutes until soft and tender.
Before serving, stir in fresh basil leaves.