Ratatouille à la Provençale

Ratatouille Provençale

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I hope you’ve seen the film of the same name, not just because it’s very funny but also because it is about a passion for great food that’s full of flavour – it shows that its namesake dish can satisfy all tastes, from the discerning gourmet to the lover of good home cooking. The word ratatouille comes from touiller, which means ‘to stir round or mix’, and the recipe originates from Nice in the South of France. For me, this dish not only represents but also encompasses the splendour of the South: full of sunshine, colour and the scent of the Mediterranean.

Preparation time 20 minutes, plus cooking the rice and pasta
Cooking time 2 hours 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 100 ml/ fl oz/scant ½ cup olive oil
  • 1 aubergine, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and sliced
  • 1 large courgette or 2 small courgettes, cubed
  • 400 g/14 oz tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and cut into large cubes
  • a pinch of caster sugar
  • 1 bouquet garni made with 1 small handful of flat-leaf parsley sprigs and 1 sprig of thyme, tied together with kitchen string
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • a small handful of basil leaves, to serve
  • rice or pasta, to serve

Method

In a large cast iron pan, heat the oil over a medium heat. Add the aubergine and cook for 4–5 minutes until softened but not coloured. Add the onion, garlic and peppers and cook for 2–3 minutes, stirring occasionally, then stir in the courgette, tomatoes and sugar. Add the bouquet garni and simmer gently, partially covered, over a low to medium heat, for 1½–2 hours, stirring occasionally. If, when you take the lid off the ratatouille, it is too wet due to condensation, continue cooking it gently with the lid off, until you get the texture and consistency you want.

When ready, check the seasoning and add some salt and pepper, if necessary. Sprinkle with basil and serve with rice or pasta.

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