Ratatouille

Herald Series:

BAGS of courgettes are beginning to arrive at my door now that summer's really arrived, as friends with allotments and vegetable gardens are harvesting far more than they can use.

I turn some into soup and freeze it for the autumn, and serve the rest raw in salads or as ratatouille, which, I admit, is not always made with the ingredients in this recipe.

I have found that one very tasty way of using up courgettes is to lightly fry them in oil with a couple of cloves of garlic and a few ripe tomatoes. If I have bacon in the house, I add that at the last moment, having grilled it to a crisp and chopped it small.

This recipe lists all the things you need for a classic ratatouille, but remember, you can vary these ingredients and still come up with a very tasty dish.

To serve four, you will need: Four medium-sized courgettes One large onion - sliced or chopped 6 ripe tomatoes - sliced or chopped One red capsicum - sliced or chopped One small aubergine - sliced or chopped 2oz (50g) mushrooms - sliced One small bunch fresh parsley - chopped fine One clove garlic - chopped fine 4 tbspns olive oil Salt and freshly-ground black peppercorns to season Method: Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion and garlic, and fry for a moment or two until onion begins to soften and you can smell the aroma of the garlic Add the aubergine slices and cook slowly with a lid on the pan for about ten minutes Stir in all other ingredients, season and cook over a moderate heat for at least 30 minutes, as this is one of those dishes which calls for the vegetables to be really soft when served Taste, adjust seasoning and serve.

Note: Ratatouille tastes good when served warm rather than hot.

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