This is a delectable vegetable stew that makes full use of late summer vegetables – sweet peppers, courgettes, tomatoes, aubergines. Serve it with grilled pork or lamb chops, or add cooked haricot beans and serve with fresh bread for a vegetarian meal. It freezes well, so you can make it in the late summer when the fresh ingredients are plentiful and thaw it for a reminder of summer in the middle of winter.
Ratatouille (serves 4)
1 lb (approx 450 g) courgette* (green or yellow or a mixture)
1 lb (approx 450 g) aubergine**
4 Tablespoons (4 x 15 ml spoon) olive oil
3 large cloves garlic
1 red pepper
1 lb (approx 450 g) tomatoes
1 Tablespoon (1 x 15 ml spoon) fresh basil (or other herbs of your choice)
Chop the courgette and aubergine into approximately 2 cm cubes. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 30 minutes. Then rinse the courgette and aubergine in a bowl of cold water to wash off the salt, and drain on kitchen paper.
Peel and chop the onion. Crush the garlic. Remove the seeds from the red pepper and chop.
Chop the tomatoes. You can peel them if you like, but I never do. Tinned tomatoes are not as nice in this recipe as fresh ones, so use fresh tomatoes if at all possible.
Fry the onion and garlic gently in the olive oil in a large saucepan until softened and starting to colour. Add the courgette, aubergine and red pepper.
Put a lid on the pan and simmer over a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Add the chopped tomatoes and chopped herbs, and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Stir well.
Simmer for another 30 minutes or so over a low heat until the vegetables are almost disintegrating.
Serve with grilled lamb or pork chops, or add cooked butter beans (or haricot beans or canellini beans) for a vegetarian casserole. It goes particularly well with fresh bread to mop up the juices. If using beans, approximately 1.5 oz (approx 40 g) per person of dried beans is about right, soaked overnight and then cooked for about an hour in boiling water.
*Also called zucchini
**Also called eggplant