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Ratatouille

Ratatouille and Rice

It was bonfire night yesterday (seriously, how is it November already?!) and we went out to watch an excellent local firework display with some friends. We had less than an hour between getting home from work and having to leave again to cook and eat dinner so needed something that was going to be incredibly quick. Ratatouille is not that something; however, because it only gets more delicious the longer it’s left it was the perfect thing to cook on Wednesday night and then heat up again last night while the rice was cooking.

I mentioned the last time we blogged about ratatouille that I hadn’t got round to changing my recipe to include aubergine and thought this time was as good as any!

Ratatouille (v2)
Serves 4
Prep time: 10-15 mins (though much of it is while the rest is cooking)
Cooking time: at least an hour

2 medium red onions
2 cloves of garlic
2 large peppers
2 courgettes
1 small aubergine
1 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
Herbs des Provence
salt and pepper
olive oil

1. Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan – keep the heat low
2. Peel and cut the onions into chunks then add them to the pan and stir them into the oil
3. Peel the garlic cloves and chop them finely – add the garlic to the pan.
4. Halve the peppers, remove the stalk and seeds and chop into chunks – add them to the pan and stir.
5. Stir in the herbs
6. Top and tail the courguettes, slice them lengthways and then chop into chunks – add them to the pan and stir
7. Top and tail the aubergine and chop into chunks – add it to the pan.
8. Add 2 tbsps of water to the vegetables, stir them as best you can (there’ll be a lot in there) and cover. Cook for about 20 minutes or until the onions and peppers are soft – stir occassionally to prevent sticking.
9. Tip in the tin of chopped tomatoes, stir, season, then bring to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering for at least 40 minutes.
10. Serve with rice, jacket potato, crusty bread or just have a big steaming bowl full of it on its own!

Rob said this was the best ratatouille I’ve ever made, so I’ll stick to this version in the future, maybe using fresh tomatoes in place of tinned when the season comes back around!

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Pan-fried salmon fillet, ratatouille and Jersey Royal potatoes

We had a couple of salmon fillets that we intended to simply pan-fry and serve with boiled Jersey Royals and vegetables – something along the lines of green beans or similar. Unfortunately, when we did our shopping on Monday evening, it was all a bit disasterous with low stocks of just about everything and frustration lead us to come home without everything we needed, including the veg. Luckily, we had a plan B! I’d bought some courgettes with the intention of cooking up some more summer vegetable soup last night, but I’d gone out for lunch so wasn’t feeling at all hungry. We also had a red pepper in the fridge for which we had no plans so ratatouille seemed like a good idea!

Ratatouille was one of my favourite meals as a child and has continued to be so; it’s great served with rice, a jacket potato, or even just a great hunk of crusty bread (it can also benefit from a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese, mmm!)

Ratatouille
Serves 3-4 as a side dish (1-2 as suggested above)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: as long as you can bear (at least 40 mins)

2 small onions
2 small courgettes
1 large pepper
1 400g tin chopped tomatoes
2 tsp tomato purée
olive oil
herbs (we usually use dried Herbs des Provence, but tonight had fresh thyme, fresh oregano and a couple of dried bay leaves)
salt and pepper

1. Chop the onions, courgettes and pepper into chunks. Heat some olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the onions and peppers to soften for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the courgettes to the pan along with any dried herbs and leave for a further 5 minutes, then stir through the tomato purée before adding the tin of chopped tomatoes. Season to taste, bring to the boil and simmer gently without a lid for at least 25 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Ratatouille is one of those dishes that only gets better with time, so if you can leave it for longer than do so (it also tastes amazing the following day).

3. Stir in any fresh herbs and serve.

 

You can pretty much adjust the quanities of vegetables in this as much as you like – we usually use more peppers and less courgette, but it’s all down to personal taste. I think ratatouille traditionally includes aubergine as well, but I used to really dislike aubergine and have never got round to changing my recipe!

Ratatouille is so versatile and easy to cook and it’ll keep for a good few days in the fridge. It’s also low calorie and low fat (until you add cheese) and contibutes well to your 5-a-day. If you haven’t before, then do give it a try!

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