Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Summer in the Kitchen

It's certainly not summer outside this week. I had a pot of basil that I bought a couple of weeks ago for tomato soup, and it needed using up so I decided to make a big pot of ratatouille for dinner tonight. I thought C didn't like it and that I would be eating the rest of it myself, but it appears his taste has changed since the last time I gave it to him - a good discovery.

The more traditional version is cooked with more olive oil, but I like this version from Anna Thomas's  From Anna's Kitchen. She uses less oil and a fresh tomato sauce for extra cooking liquid - even more summery goodness.

I used two small aubergines / eggplants, two courgettes / zucchini, 2 onions, 1 each red and green bell peppers, 4 large tomatoes for the sauce and two at the end, plus some basil, parsley, garlic and a spoonful of balsamic vinegar.
The aubergines, courgettes, onions and peppers were all cut into 1/2" dice. The tomatoes were cut a bit larger

The tomato sauce was simply 4 tomatoes skinned and coarsely chopped, and simmered for about half an hour in a little oil with a crushed clove of garlic and some chopped basil till it was reduced.

While I made the sauce I degorged (is that how you spell it in English?) the aubergines; in a plastic colander I sprinkled them lightly with salt and left them for half an hour. Originally this was to remove some of the bitterness and excess liquid. A bit like scalding milk being a hangover from when it was needful, I think that most modern varieties are a lot less bitter then their early predecessors, and personally I don't bother doing it with the courgettes. I do, however, think it helps make the aubergines a bit less absorbent, so I usually do it with them. After this rinse them and pat dry with kitchen towel.

Heat 1 tblsp olive oil in a large pan. Add the chopped onion and a clove or two of crushed garlic, and fry gently for about 7 minutes, till soft. Add the courgettes and aubergines and continue to fry gently, stirring well, for another 7 minutes or so. Add the peppers and the tomato sauce, along with some salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about twenty minutes. Add the tomatoes, chopped basil and parsley and a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Cook for another 5 minutes and serve.
We had with pasta tonight - I like it with crusty bread, and I like it almost as much cold.
Funny, it's a real Provencal dish, but I don't believe I had it when I was staying in Provence on a teenage exchange visit.


  1. haven't had ratatouille for ages, your recipe looks really nice :)

  2. This sounds and looks delicious. I just got some zucchini and summer squash from our custodian and need to find something to do with it. I've been eating much too much junk food lately due to stress and could use a good dose of healthy vegies.