Preparation info

  • Serves at Least


    • Difficulty


Appears in

A Long and Messy Business

A Long and Messy Business

By Rowley Leigh

Published 2018

  • About

The quality of the vegetables is fundamental to a good ratatouille. If good, ripe, fragrant tomatoes are not available, canned plum tomatoes are a better option than a watery ‘salad’ tomato.


  • 3 red peppers
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 onions, peeled and cut into 1cm (½in) cubes
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and quite finely chopped
  • 3 long aubergines or 2 large ‘viola’ aubergines, peeled and cut into 1cm (½in) cubes
  • 150ml (5fl oz) tomato passata
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 6 courgettes
  • 6 tomatoes, stalks removed
  • 20 basil leaves, coarsely torn
  • salt and black pepper


Char the red peppers under a hot grill or open flame until well blistered, then place them in a plastic bag and let them steam in their own heat for 20 minutes.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large heavy casserole dish and stew the onions gently for 15 minutes. After 10 minutes, add the garlic and continue to stew.

Cut open the peppers and remove their seeds and stalks. Peel off all the blackened skin, then cut the peppers into long strips and add them to the onion mixture. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and stew gently for a further 10 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the aubergines over a high heat, stirring regularly. Continue until they soften and are lightly coloured before adding them to the onions and peppers. Add the passata and thyme, season again and bring to a simmer.

Peel the courgettes in stripes, leaving half the peel on. Cut into 1cm (½in) cubes and sauté in the last tablespoon of olive oil, in the same pan you used for the aubergines. Cook over a high heat until they colour and wilt slightly, then add to the casserole, removing it from the heat.

Blanch the tomatoes in a heatproof bowl of boiling water for 20 seconds, then refresh in cold water before peeling off their skins. Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the seeds. Chop the tomatoes into 1cm (½in) cubes and add to the casserole. Return to the heat, add 150ml (5fl oz) water, season again and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the basil leaves and remove from the heat. The ratatouille is best served warm, rather than very hot. If not serving straight away, it should be cooled and refrigerated as soon as possible.