This is one of my favourites this time of year. It's colder outside, the leaves are turning their glorious autumnal colours and I'm inside staying cosy with a a giant cardigan, a bowlful of ratatouille and a glass of red (well, an imaginary glass of red).
In her A Book of Mediterranean Food, quintessential Mediterranean food writer Elizabeth David calls ratatouille "a Provençal ragoût of vegetables, usually pimentos, onions, tomatoes and aubergines, stewed very slowly in oil". She also advises that "the vegetables should not be fried, but stewed in the oil, so simmer in a covered pan for the first 30 minutes, uncovered for the last 10".
* 1 large (or 2 small) eggplants
* 2 red capsicums (or any other colour capsicum, for some reason I prefer red in this recipe)
* 3 or 4 zucchini
* 2 brown onions
* 6 tomatoes, chopped (or 2 tins crushed tomatoes)
* 1 small-ish bunch fresh basil
* 1/2 bunch flat-leaf parsley
* good quality extra virgin olive oil
1) Slice onions (I chop them half-moon style, if that makes sense), cube eggplant, zucchini and slice capsicums
2) Add a few tablespoons of olive oil to a good, sturdy casserole pot (in my dreams I have a Le Creuset for this), heat and add onions. Add a pinch of salt and stew these slowly until they turn translucent.
3) Add all other ingredients, then leave to simmer for 30-45 minutes. I tend to add the basil later on so it retains it's green, vibrant flavour, and if I'm in the mood I'll add a pinch of raw sugar to the stew as well.
4) I like my ratatouille served with a nice, chewy baguette alongside, or on a bed of fluffy couscous. If I'm feeling very la-dee-da (ie, if I have friends over), I'll jazz up the couscous with some lemon rind and dried rosemary or tarragon (I give them a bash together in a mortar and pestle and stir through the cooked couscous) and toasted pine nuts.
(Image nabbed from Google)