my grandma's ratatouille
growing up, my mum and grandma, being very typically french, were always cooking my family ratatouille. i remember sitting in a row with my 4 brothers eating big hot bowls of the rustic provincial veggie stew in front of the simpsons on a regular basis. it is one of my favourite childhood comfort foods. as soon as i left home it was the first thing i knew i had to learn to cook and it’s a staple dish in my life to this day. warm, comforting, healthy, easy and delicious.
ratatouille is also my favourite movie ever. sometimes i’ll watch it while making/eating ratatouille. this is not a joke :| . anders loves it and can easily eat 2-3 bowls in one sitting. when we first travelled to europe together in 2007, we house-sat for a family i know in berlin. we had run pretty low on funds after 3 months travelling around, so we would go to the local organic supermarket and make huge pots of ratatouille and ate it literally every night for almost three weeks. sometimes we added a boiled egg or two on the side for a little protein hit. every time i visit my grandma in provence i can guarantee the first meal she cooks me will be ratatouille with salad, rice and fresh goat's cheese from the markets accompanied by some rosé.
i get my ingredients from the farmers market on a sunday and cook a big batch that night. one of my favourite ways to eat it is with basmati rice cooked in ghee with salad. it's also a nice veggie side dish with protein like fish, chicken or eggs. or of course just on its own with fresh crusty baguette.
INGREDIENTS (4-6 servings)
- olive oil
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 red onion
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 large eggplant
- 2-3 large red capsicum
- 5 zucchinis
- 5-6 fresh tomatoes
- handful of fresh basil
- 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp of herb d provence
- chilli flakes or cayenne pepper (optional)
- salt and pepper
- 1 tsp raw sugar
- freshly grated parmesan
1 / preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. place capsicums on a baking tray and roast for about 45 min - 1 hour until skin is black. once they’re done, place into a big bowl and cover with aluminium foil to let them "sweat" for at least an hour. (i do this step earlier in the day) pre roasting the capsicum creates that delicious smoky/grilled flavour from the blackened skin.
2 / add the chopped eggplant to a pan on medium heat with olive oil, salt and pepper and stir for a couple minutes until it starts to soften and caramelised, then add the chopped garlic, onion and bay leaves. continue stirring for another two minutes or so then turn heat off and put pan aside.
3 / add chopped zucchini into the big pot that you will be adding everything into at the end. add a little olive oil salt and pepper and cook over high/med heat for 5 minutes.
4 / while the zucchini is cooking, quickly blanch the fresh tomatoes : i prefer to use whole fresh tomatoes when making ratatouille but canned tomatoes and passata both work when i am feeling lazy. to blanch the tomatoes bring a pot of water to a boil, cut little crosses into the tomato skin and add tomatoes to the water. after about 30 seconds you will see skin starting to curl where you made the cuts which means they are ready to take out. add tomatoes to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process and peel the skin off (so satisfying). once peeled, cut into large chunks and put aside in a bowl.
5 / now it’s time to peel and deseed the capsicum that's been sitting and steaming. remove the skin, seeds and core. don’t rinse! and it’s no problem if a little of the blackened skin stays on. it just adds more flavour. cut and add into the bowl with your tomatoes.
6 / now that everything is cooked, it's time to bring it all together. add all the vegetables, all your herbs and spices, a sprinkle of sugar along with salt and pepper to taste to the big pot where your zucchini is sitting. turn to low/med heat for about half an hour with the lid on stirring and checking on it until it has reduced.
7 / once finished plate up with some freshly grated parmesan and basil leaves. sometimes i add a dash of tabasco (i'm obsessed with tabasco) as well as your optional side… rice and ghee, salad, baguette, egg, chicken, salmon or just a big bowl on its own… the choices are endless. anyone can cook ratatouille!
all photos by me and anders