|This time we added some cooked organic yellow chickpeas and served it with gluten free pasta for lunch.|
This month's how-to comes to you courtesy of my other half, also the other half of The Yogi Vegetarian. Ratatouille is one of his specialities, and he showed me how to get great results using a method that is a mixture of traditional and quick ways to make it. Ratatouille can form the basis of so many delicious main courses like veggie or vegan lasagne, or be eaten as a side dish or alone with some crusty bread; or you can add some chickpeas for protein to make a complete meal of it. It is widely available canned, but not only can this ratatouille be insipid, soggy and watery, also for those who avoid onions and garlic it is usually out of bounds. As Summer is well and truly here and homegrown tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and aubergines will soon be available, we thought it timely to write a post about how you can capture all the fresh, sunny Summer flavours of the Mediterranean...
This recipe makes enough for 6-8 servings, and will go even further if you add cooked chickpeas!
450g aubergine (eggplant)
250g courgettes (zucchini)
300g bell peppers (about 2)
800g-1kg fresh tomatoes (at least 6 large ones)
3000ml pasata (optional)
1 rounded tab dried (or the equivalent fresh) basil/ mixed herbs
1 tsp coarse black pepper
1 tsp sweetener of your choice (gour/ raw sugar/ agave nectar etc.)
2 bay leaves (optional)
1 1/2 tsps seasalt
1/2 tsp hing
3 tabs olive oil for saute-ing
- Whizz the tomatoes up in your food processor; skin, seeds and all (these should disappear if you blend for long enough). Put in a saucepan with the seasalt, sweetening agent, black pepper, herbs, hing, bay leaves and basil.
- Bring to the boil, then simmer to reduce. You can make the tomato sauce richer at this point if you like by throwing in 250ml (usually half a packet) of pasata. By cooking the tomato sauce separately you stop the water from other veg making the ratatouille soggy.
- Meanwhile, slice the aubergines, courgettes and bell peppers and saute them in the olive oil until soft but not browned. To get them all to cook at the same time you may need to make the aubergine chunks smaller. The important thing here is to cook the courgettes in one pan and the aubergine and peppers in another. Use 1 tab oil for the courgettes and 2 tabs oil for the rest. The point of this is to seal in the flavour of each kind of vegetable and to drive of excess water before adding them to the tomato sauce.
- Now add the sauted vegetables to the tomato sauce, mixing well. Adjust seasoning if necessary. (Add cooked chickpeas now if you want.)
|1: Get your beautiful fresh veggies ready...|
|2: Whizz up the tomatoes and add seasonings. Reduce to make a rich sauce.|
|3: Cook the aubergines and peppers in one pan...|
|4: ... and the courgettes in another.|
|5: Add the cooked veg to the sauce.|
|6: The end result, plus chickpeas.|