Serves 4 -6 as a main course, 8 as a side
Prep time: 20 mins | Cooking time: 1h 15mins
Originating in the French city of Nice in the late 19th century, ratatouille is a Provençal peasant dish of stewed vegetables – traditionally aubergine, courgette and pepper cooked in a tomato base with regional herbs. Although the earliest record of ratatouille dates back less than 150 years, there are a great many variations in cooking technique. According to the noted encyclopedia of gastronomy, Larousse Gastronomique, purists claim that each vegetable should be cooked separately and then combined, so that each retains its own flavour.
In many homes, however, ratatouille is cooked in a single pot. The word itself is derived from the french verb touiller, meaning “to stir up”. If time is not on your side, or you simply want an easier route, you can adapt this recipe by chopping your veg into small cubes, and adding them into the pan at step 2 for a quick and easy vegetarian meal.
Our recipe below, however, is inspired by the film of the same name, and this ratatouille is as much about presentation as flavour – an elegant showpiece for when you have guests. It requires a certain degree of patience in preparation but looks exquisite when plated, with layers of carefully sliced vegetables in an array of colours adding vibrancy and texture to every bite.
This version is Kosher for Passover, but is delicious all year round. The celebration of autumnal vegetables also makes it ideal for Succot, which coincides with the autumn harvest. At other times of the year, you could try out this alternative ratatouille topped with a black olive and panko crumb, which has a little more crunch and a flavour profile highlighted with star anise, bay leaves and thyme.
- 1 large Aubergine, sliced into 5-7mm (1/4in) rounds
- 2 Courgettes, sliced into 5-7mm (1/4in) rounds
- 4 large Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced into 5-7mm (1/4in) rounds
For the Sauce:
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, finely diced
- 1 Brown Onion, finely diced
- 2 cloves of Garlic, crushed
- Salt & Pepper, to taste
- 400g tin Chopped Tomatoes
- 2 tbsp Tomato Puree
- 2 tbsp Fresh Basil, finely chopped OR 2 tsp Dried Basil
- Olive Oil
- Start with the sauce. Into a saucepan, pour a little oil and sweat off onions with a pinch of salt for a few minutes, stirring regularly, until onions begin to turn translucent.
- Add in chopped red pepper and cook until slightly softened, approx 3-5 minutes, then add in garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add in 400g tinned chopped tomatoes, 2 tbsp tomato puree and a generous amount of salt and ground black pepper to season. If using dried basil, add it in now.
- Mix together, cover and cook on a medium-low heat for 20 minutes until flavours have infused. If using fresh basil, add in halfway.
- Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 200℃ (180℃ Fan/350℉).
- Grease a deep ovenproof dish or skillet with a little oil, then organise your sliced vegetables on their edges in an alternating pattern in a baking dish, packed tightly together, as pictured below.
- Once sauce is fully cooked, pour over the vegetables, then cover the tray in foil. You may need to slightly tent the foil to avoid sticking.
- Bake in oven for around 45 minutes – 1 hour covered, until vegetables are soft, then remove the foil and cook for a further 15 minutes, until the excess liquid has evaporated and sauce has thickened.
- Serve topped with a sprinkling of freshly chopped basil.