Or as we like to call it, Ratatatataouille.
At the beginning of the week, I expected to choose something a bit more exciting for my Fill your Fridge Recipe of the Week. I had some nice dishes on this week with ingredient combinations I was looking forward to putting together. But it became clear to me, the pure joy of excellent produce, at the height of the season, coupled with the elegant simplicity of this dish, would leave the other menu choices standing.
Ratatouille is a French dish; it has many variations and anyone that knows me knows I like to get close to the original homemade recipe before I or better chefs than I start adapting or swapping out to suit the taste buds or dietaries requirements of Northampton.
Aubergine, courgettes, tomatoes, red and yellow bell peppers, garlic, and basil – simple and beautiful. Ingredients like these in the month of August – what a joy! They are all in abundance so carefully choosing the absolute best available made shopping a pleasure. I would steer you towards Northampton’s own market square or a farmer’s market in the absence of your own homegrown.
Getting back to the kitchen to lay them all out made me think of a painter’s palette of colours, appetising to the eye.
This dish requires you to prepare the individual ingredients before combining them. The traditional method is to cook on the hob, but I choose to roast. I am more familiar and wanted to char the veg a little for flavour.
Oven on gas mark 7
I cut the aubergine into cubes lightly coated in oil and salted then lay in a single layer on a baking tray. I cubed the peppers and courgettes and again oiled and lay in a single layer on a baking tray.
Keep an eye, the aubergine should be done first, around 15 – 20 minutes. The other tray will be a further 10-15mins. You are looking for the veg to be soft but still hold shape and I prefer slightly caramelised finish on the vegetables. On the hob I sautéed an onion for a good 5mins after which I added plenty of garlic about half a bulb. Rather than use roma or heirloom tomato I used a couple of big handfuls of cherry tomatoes – I’m a little obsessed with these at the moment! Let the tomatoes cook down, take your time, add a splash water if necessary. Whizz the sauce and season. Combine all the ingredients when they are all ready and cook down till you can resist it no longer! Check the seasoning and finish with torn basil leaves and olive oil
Ratatouille tastes better cooled and the flavours have melded together.
As always this is your food – so customise it. Homemade meals have to have some benefits and if you want to peel the tomatoes and peppers to get a smoother texture then knock yourself out, equally use canned tomatoes if you like! Add chilli or thyme whatever your family and friends enjoy. I prepared some white fish to go with the ratatouille for my Fill your fridge clients very well it went down too.
My final word is to make plenty, especially at this time of year!