|My Oven-Roasted Ratatouille|
The troublesome word, in my opinion, is 'stewed'. I just don't much like stewed veggies, any way you slice them.
A ratatoolie made by sautéeing the ingredients in olive oil and then chucking them into a baking dish - in layers or mixed up, depending on whose gospel you are following - for a long stewing in the oven will taste okay, but doesn't do justice, in my opinion, to the key ingredients of this dish, namely tomatoes, aubergine, courgettes, red peppers, garlic, onions and herbs. I'm all for the mingling of flavours, but I don't want them to mingle to the extent that all you can taste is, well, ratatouille, with a lightly mushy texture, and a top note of seeped veggie water.
Try this method of oven-roasting the ingredients, in batches, before you combine them with a purée of tomatoes. The roasting intensifies the flavour of each vegetable, and prevents a watery result.
This recipe takes little effort, but a lot of time. It also contains quite a lot of olive oil, but it's very low in carbohydrates, making it a brilliant choice of veggie accompaniment for a low-carb diet.
- three large onions, peeled and quartered
- two large, shining brinjals [eggplants], cut into cubes
- three red peppers [capsicums], sliced
- ½ cup (125 ml) olive oil
- salt and freshly milled pepper
- a few sprigs of thyme
- a few needles of fresh or dried rosemary
Set the oven temperature to its highest setting (mine goes up to 260 °C). Arrange the vegetables in three separate stripes [see left] in a deep metal roasting dish. Trickle the olive oil over the vegetables, rubbing with your fingers to ensure that every piece is glossed with oil, and season well with salt and pepper. Top with a few sprigs of thyme and the rosemary needles. Put the dish into the blazing hot oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they are just beginning to blacken on the edges. Now turn the oven down to 180 °C and bake the vegetables for another 15 minutes, or until they are soft.
- three cups (750 ml) plump, ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
- 12 courgettes, thickly sliced
- 6 cloves fresh garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
- a handful of fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml) olive oil
Put all the ingredients into a bowl and toss well to combine. Remove the roasted vegetables from the oven, and tip in the new raw ingredients. Stir well to combine.
Put the dish back in the oven and baked for about 25 minutes, or until the cherry tomatoes have just started to collapse and the courgettes are tender. In the meantime, make the tomato sauce.
- 2 Tbsp (30 ml)
- 2 fat cloves fresh garlic, peeled and crushed
- two tins canned Italian tomatoes, and their juice, roughly chopped
- 4 big, ripe tomatoes, cut into small chunks
- 1 tsp (5 ml) white sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- a sprig of thyme
- salt and freshly milled black pepper
- A handful of fresh basil, torn
Serve hot or, even better, just warm.
Excellent with a crumble of feta cheese, over a tangle of pasta, or warm on bruschetta. Or on its own, with a few rocket leaves.
Serves 4 as main dish, 6-8 as a snack on bruschetta.