Ratatouille

Ratatouille is not just an animated film, but a vegetarian dish that uses some delicious summer vegetables.  Whilst it makes an excellent side dish ratatouille is so much more than a vegetable accompaniment. It is a rich vegetable sauce which is ideal for use with freshly cooked pasta, as a baked potato topping or as a component part for many other recipes. Simple to make, and delicious to eat ratatouille is a finding end to all your hard work in the garden. Cooking in a large pots and pans allows the making of multiple portions which can be frozen for later recipe use or is ideal for parties.

Ingredients

  • 12 large ripe plum tomatoes
  • 10 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 large aubergines, tops removed and diced 3-4cm (1¼-1½ inch) thick
  • 6 courgettes, tops removed, halved lengthways and sliced 2cm (¾ inch) thick
  • 3 red peppers, tops removed, deseeded and roughly diced into 3-4cm (1¼-1½ inch) pieces
  • 3 yellow peppers tops removed, deseeded and roughly diced into 3-4cm (1¼-1½ inch) pieces
  • 4 red onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons tomato puree
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons dried Herbs de Provence
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of freshly chopped parsley.
  • 5 x 1 litre (1¾ pint) plastic food boxes with lids or large freezer bags and ties

 

To prepare the tomatoes

  1. Fill the 3-ply Stainless Steel Preserving Pan 2½-3 litres of water and bring to the boil.
  2. Score across the base of each tomato with a sharp knife.
  3. Plunge the tomatoes into the boiling water for 20-30 seconds then remove, with a slotted spoon, and put into a bowl to cool. Empty the preserving pan.
  4. Once cool peel away the tomatoes’ skin and discard, roughly chop the flesh discarding any woody parts and set to one side until required.

 To make the Ratatouille

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the preserving pan over a low to medium heat.
  2. Fry the aubergine until slightly browned, remove with a slotted spoon and set to one side.

Repeat the process with the courgettes and then the peppers but reducing the olive oil to 2 tablespoons each time.

  1. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and fry the onions and garlic until softened.
  2. Add the tomatoes, tomato puree, bay leaves, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the semi-cooked vegetables and cook for a further 15 minutes over a low to medium heat. Stir frequently to prevent sticking and achieve an even distribution of heat. Add the parsley 2-3 minutes before the end of the cooking time.
  4. Check the seasoning, add a little salt if necessary. Spoon equal portions into the freezer boxes or bags.
  5. Put on the lids or ties and allow to cool before placing into the freezer.

Best used within 6 months of freezing. Once defrosted keep chilled and use within 48 hours.

Over the past 12 months, I have become a big fan of gardening especially growing my own vegetables, partly for the excitement of seeing something beautiful come from a tiny seed. I often make salads and various meals from my homegrown vegetables but there is one dish that I get great satisfaction from, it is a true winter warmer.

There is nothing better than coming home from a hard day at work and making a tasty, enjoyable meal in no time at all and with very little effort.

Exploring my vegetable patch, my tomatoes were large and juicy and the red peppers full of colour. Picking one at a time wandering what I could conjure up this time. I headed back to my kitchen and started chopping the vegetables when it hit me: roasted red pepper and tomato soup. My mouth was watering. I wanted to keep this dish as simple and as easy as possible without having to nip round the supermarket for more ingredients. Here is the method to my madness:

Serves approximately 4 people

Ingredients:

6 Red Peppers

10 Large Tomatoes

2 Onions

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

3 Cloves of Garlic

1 Pint Vegetable Stock

Basil

Seasoning

Preparation:

  1. Roughly quarter the red peppers and tomatoes, peel onion cloves and finely chop the onions. Place all in a deep baking tray with olive oil,
  2. Bake for approximately 40 minutes on a medium heat or until very soft,
  3. Add to blender with seasoning and a good handful of chopped basil, add vegetable stock as you go along until the right consistency is reached,
  4. Once all blended, add to a large saucepan and simmer until boiling,
  5. For a final addition, add to a bowl or mug with a spoonful of cream cheese!

Enjoy in the comfort of your candle lit lounge on a cold winters night!

For more information on how to grow your own vegetables visit www.GardenHealth.com