Meatless Mondays: Ratatouille

Meatless Mondays continue with a cockle-warming stew to tide you over the cold nights

Photo: mihir1310

Photo: mihir1310

For many of you who know and love the movie ‘Ratatouille’, you will also be aware that even the most special of people can learn to cook something as delicious and easy as this fantastic vegetarian dish. Its beauty lies in its simplicity, and the fact that you can have it as a side dish for meat, steaming in a bowl by itself with a hunk of crusty bread, or cold the next day. Take your pick.

Originating from Nice, France, this Provençal dish is essentially stewed vegetables. How dull, I hear you cry. But these are not just any vegetables, nor are they just stewed. Allow the sun of the Mediterranean to soak through your chilled English bones in this warming dish of fantastic flavours which somehow only that particular area seems to manage to create. It is substantial enough to leave you full to the brim, but for those ravenous students not quite satisfied, have some home-made garlic bread to soak up the left-overs at the bottom of the bowl.

2 cloves garlic minimum
2 red onions
1 aubergine
2 courgettes
1-2 peppers
A handful of cherry tomatoes (optional)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
fresh basil
Seasoning and rosemary

Baguette or normal bread
2 cloves garlic

1. Chop garlic and onion roughly, and place in large frying pan or non-stick saucepan with oil on low heat. Leave to gently heat through until onion is soft.
2. Slice aubergine into one-inch-thick horizontal slices, then chop into generous cubes. Add to pan. Aubergine takes up a lot of oil, don’t be stingy with it. Leave to heat 2-3 mins.
3. Chop courgettes and peppers into chunks, add to the pan, turn up the heat to medium and stir occasionally for 2-3 mins.
4. Add cherry tomatoes (if using), pour tinned tomatoes over the entire pot. Add salt and pepper and rosemary to taste. Leave to simmer gently until cooked through (10-15 mins) and if boiling dry add water.
5. Now, go the full French hog and slice the baguette, toast under the grill for no more than 2 mins (watch it, it burns fast) and rub with a peeled squashed garlic clove. Alternatively, crush a garlic clove over the bread and drizzle with olive oil before grilling. No vampires (or kisses) for you tonight.

Serve in bowls with fresh basil leaves roughly torn over the top. So artistic.

Tip: In my humble opinion, the more garlic and the more rosemary you add the better. Also, you can vary the amounts of each vegetable according to how much you like them. This is a sublimely adaptable recipe and the leftovers improve in flavour overnight. Lunch for tomorrow sorted as well, as long as your library buddy doesn’t mind being garlicked out of their work space.

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