Sunday, August 15, 2010

Recipe: Roasted Ratatouille

This is by far the best ratatouille I have ever made or tasted. I think this dish has put a lot of people off courgettes over the years. Often you get flavourless watery offerings in canteens, which make people think less favourably of this wonderfully rustic French dish.

The trick behind my recipe is to roast all the elements separately. It is useful if you have at least 2 roasting tins, that way it doesn't take all that long to make. In terms of the dish's authenticity, im sure by missing out the aubergine I am committing a cardinal sin, but I believe the dish works better without.

Bit of a story behind this actually. Earlier on in the afternoon mum sent me out to the local farm to get some eggs. She had walked past it many times walking the dog, but had never gone up to the house part to buy produce. I though it was exciting, because it's good to get local produce and to support small businesses. Here's a picture of the farm and the sign I noticed outside, everything is so cheap!


I met the farmer, Linda, and she took me for a little tour round the produce she has been growing. She showed me the courgettes, which I was interested to look at in terms of comparing with mine. I also saw some very promising looking butternut squash plants, give it a couple of weeks and I'll be heading up there to get a couple I think. She keeps 15 hens; she says she gets 14 eggs a day at the moment because one of them has "gone a bit broody", hah!). So I bought a dozen eggs from her, and I decided I would get about a pound of yellow courgettes. Because I love them and you can't really get them in the shops. So when i was making this dish, with all the seperate elements, i left the kitchen at one point to answer the phone. I come back, and theres a naughty looking dog running away, and an empty roasting dish that previously contained 2 pounds of roasted courgettes! She's such a naughty dog! I wish i'd closed the door properly! This is a picture of my dog Misty in the kitchen(Misty is the flat coated retriever on the left. The one on the right is the next door neighbour's black labrador Louie). Bad Dog!

So since my homegrown green courgettes and the yellows I got earlier had all been scoffed, I had to send my mum up for a repeat visit to Linda's farm, whilst I roasted the other ingredients! After all that fuss it was delicious anyway. Mum had it with a cheese omelette (the local eggs are very good!) and I had it with a hunk of crusty bread to mop up the juices. It also works very well as a side dish for roast lamb.

Ratatouille (serves 6 as a side dish, 3 as a main)

3 green peppers, diced fairly thickly
3 red onions, diced fairly thickly
850g courgettes (a mix of yellow and green if possible) thickly sliced
1350g ripe tomatoes, quartered
Olive oil, salt and pepper
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 tbsp fresh oregano (or 1tsp dried) chopped
¼ tsp garlic granules
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the oven to 160C. Separately roast all the vegetables in different roasting tins, with drizzles of olive oil, salt and pepper. They all take 40 minutes, you should stir them halfway through their cooking time.
2. Put all the separately roasted vegetables into a large pan. Add all other ingredients, and cook for 10 minutes, or until hot and everything is well mixed. Serve.

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