Ratatouille, what’s that?!?
I’ve had a few friends ask what’s Ratatouille. The shortest description, is tomatoey vegetable bake. It is a great dish either as a main especially for vegetarians or as a side dish to your mains or as an accompaniment for your braai’s (aka barbeques)
Best of all, it’s easily made in bulk and can be frozen. Defrosted, when needed. A great dish to have in your freezer!
- 500g Aubergines (aka eggplant or brinjals)
- 300g sliced onions
- 3 bell peppers (can be green, red, yellow), cut & de-pipped if frying, but if roasting via oven or gas stove, leave whole.
- 2 large tomatoes, sliced and skinned OR rosa tomatoes to the equivalent of 2 large ones
- 300ml tomato paste
- 500g courgettes (also known as zucchini or baby marrows)
- 125ml coconut oil
- salt & pepper
- 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped or pressed)
How to make?
- Slice the aubergines and courgettes in 2mm slices and leave to sweat in salty water (at least 15ml salt in the water) or with just salt for 1 hour. Basically one sweats vegetables to either remove bitterness from the vegetable or to ensure if doesn’t retain water.
- Wash very well in cold water and pat dry to get the salt off, and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel or use paper towels.
- Fry, over a high heat, in a large frying pan, the aubergines in batches, in a line layer of oil, make sure they are separated from each other. Then fry the courgettes, and then the onions, and then the bell peppers.
- ROASTING PEPPERS:- If you prefer to roast the peppers, which is my preference, the easiest method for most is via the oven, vs the grill or open gas stove. This method allows you to roast several peppers at once with easy cleanup.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Line a baking sheet with foil. Lay peppers on their sides on the foil. Roast the peppers for 20 minutes. Remove baking sheet and turn the peppers half way, then place back in the oven for another 20 minutes.
Check to make sure peppers have fully roasted. The skin should be charred and soft, and the peppers should look slightly collapsed. If they don’t look ready, let them roast for a few more minutes. When they’re done, remove baking sheet from oven. You can use your oven broiler, which is a faster method
Once you’ve roasted your peppers, you will need to steam them. This process will help you peel the tough skin from them more easily. The easiest is in a plastic bag, that is then knotted or zipped up to shut. Leave for 10minutes. Then peel the layer of skin off the peppers. It’s a messy process! Then slice the pepper vertically from top to bottom and lay the pepper open so it becomes one long strip. Pull the stem from the top of the pepper. The stem and a clump of seeds should loosen easily. Use a paper towel or wash, to wipe off any loose seeds that remain inside the pepper. Cut in vertical thin strips ready for use.
- Please note, the tomato is not fried, but simple sliced.
- Use a baking dish like corning ware or oven-friendly foil container and layer as follows:
– Base tomato puree, then
– aubergine, then
– bell peppers, then
– courgettes, then
– onion, then
– fresh sliced tomato on top, and then lightly salt on top & place the garlic evenly on top.
If your dish is deep, the aubergine, peppers, courgettes, onion and be halved and basically you repeat the pattern to make a double layer of these vegetable, the only thing that doesn’t change is the puree at the bottom and the tomatoes at the top.
- Bake in the oven at 180 degrees celsius for 30-40minutes, until vegetables are completely cooked.