I have found the secret to a good ratatouille and it is two words: olive oil.
I remember making my first ratatouille only a couple of years ago, in a mates flat in Paris, while myself and old Kiwi mate were 6 weeks training through western Europe. Good trip. Awesome feed. One of maybe on that trip actually – it’s hard to find a bad feed in France, Spain and Portugal. I’ve tried to make it a few times after that and it’s never really come out so well. I never figured out why. Just a couple of weeks ago, the same Parisian ratatouille sharing friend and I were in Istanbul. I’m sure it’s not called ratatouille there but the Turks have something very similar. And it was awesome.
Tonight I made one and it was lovely. And the only differences that I can think of were these. I started with eggplant first and cooked that in a very generous amount of olive oil (as per the Turkish ratatouille we had off Istiklal street).
As a meat eater, I have often felt like there’s something missing when I eat vegetarian. Though I’d normally have made ratatouille with chicken I can honestly say that it was absolutely lovely by itself and I wasn’t at all left with that “it’s good…. but it’d be so much better with a bit of chicken” feeling.
- 1 large eggplant
- 1 red pepper
- 1 large courgette
- 1 large onion (actually on this occassion I think I used 4 or 5 shallots as that’s what I had on hand)
- 2 medium tomatoes (I think I only had one smallish tomato in the fridge so threw in a bit of tomato paste – seems like that works fine too)
- 1 clove of garlic (I didn’t either happen to have any garlic on hand and it was still lovely)
- olive oil
- Dice all the veg into similar sized chunks.
- Get a pan on the medium heat, add a generous amount of oil (perhaps 2T) and when it is hot add the diced eggplant.
- Salt and add freshly milled black pepper.
- Stir occasionally and cook through until the eggplant is almost soggy and loses it’s shape (I like it this way ultimately but it’ll still be on the heat for a while).
- Add the red pepper and onion.
- Add a little oil (you’ll find that the eggplant absorbed the large amount of oil you added before), a little more salt and pepper.
- Fish the eggplant roughly to the top and allow the onion and pepper to soften and fry.
- When the onion has gotten a bit of colour and both the last ingredients have softened, add the tomato and courgette.
- Allow tomato to “dissolve” and the courgette to soften a bit (I don’t like it too mushy, unlike the eggplant, otherwise it’s all just unrecogniable mush), add the garlic, crushed and check/adjust the seasoning to taste.
- Serve with some warm rice.