Lots of people cook a ratatouille and there are many different recipes. Unfortunately, to me, many end up being overcooked and "mushy" and some can be a tad bland.
To me the secret is to find a way to cook the beautiful vegetables and herbs so that they don't stew yet allow the flavours to get along with each other and maximise the flavours.
These vegetables are relatively inexpensive from mid-summer through to autumn and this dish is a real favourite for us as there are so many “pairing” options including:
As an aside did you watch that great movie “Ratatouille” from a few years ago?
Here's my way - yes there are two stages but very easy. This makes quite a large amount
4-5 mid-sized courgettes, halved and then quartered lengthwise
4 large red/ yellow capsicums - remove seeds and cut into largish chunks! I prefer the long sweeties but you don’t have to use them
1 large eggplant - cut into slices which are not too small
3-4 large red onions, quartered
1 packet of vine-ripened tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Generous bunch of thyme - leave as whole stalks
Garlic as desired (optional)
Sea salt and cracked pepper
Stage 1- on the barbeque hot plate
1 Heat barbeque hot plate to high temperature and drizzle the oil to just cover the plate
2 Subject to the size of your hot plate, you can either throw all the ingredients onto the plate including the thyme or start off with the red onions and capsicum, cook and place in your over dish and then cook the courgettes, eggplant and thyme
3 Cook, tossing and turning.....as you do. Add some salt and a generous amount of pepper
4 Slightly char the vegetables but don't overcook - this should take about ten minutes max
Stage 2- baked in the oven
1 Remove the vegetables and thyme from the plate and put into a nice oven proof serving dish
2 Add the tomatoes and tomato paste and drizzle a bit more oil
3 Preheat oven to 220C and bake for twenty five minutes or so - taste and further season as required
4 Remove from oven and carefully remove any thyme stalks
Ideally let the flavours be enhanced over a few hours or overnight.
Serves 6 as a side dish or 4 as a main course