Ratatouille was one of the first things I learned to cook as a child. I loved the preparation and chopping of all the different vegetables, lining them up perfectly on the chopping board ready to go into the pan. It’s such an easy and versatile dish, perfect if you’re just getting in to cooking or you’re looking for some easy vegan inspiration in the week. I prefer to eat a big bowl of this on its own but it’s just as lovely on a bed of brown rice, with a large chunk of granary bread, as a vegetable side dish, as a pasta sauce or even, if there’s any left over, blitzed with a little vegetable stock into a rich, comforting soup.
This recipe uses black garlic – one of my favourite cooking ingredients. It has a rich, balsamic like flavour which brings a slightly caramelised warmth to the dish. Add to that some chilli (use as much or as little as you like here depending on your personal preference) and you’ve got a wonderfully feel good, flavour packed meal which is highly nutritious (think of all those amazing colourful vegetables and the huge range of vitamins and minerals between them all) and ridiculously delicious.
Makes enough for 4 main servings or 6 side servings
2 tbsps olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
6-8 cloves black garlic, finely chopped (it’s milder than raw garlic so you want to pack that flavour in – if you don’t have black garlic 2 cloves of raw garlic will do here)
1 tsp dried Italian herbs
1 large red chilli finely chopped (reduce or increase the chilli depending on how much you like – 1 chilli gives a nice little kick)
1 large courgette chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 small – medium aubergine chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 large red pepper chopped into 1 inch pieces
200g button mushrooms halved
300 g cherry tomatoes
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
3 tbsps tomato puree
Salt and pepper to taste
A handful of chopped basil for decoration
- Sauté the onion, garlic, chilli, herbs and seasoning in the olive oil, over a medium heat, for five minutes
- Add all other ingredients (apart from the basil) and stir well. Cover and simmer on low for around 40 minutes stirring occasionally. Don’t be tempted to add any water even if it looks ‘dry’ initially – the vegetables will release their juices during cooking to give a beautiful, rich, sauce
- Serve with some freshly chopped basil sprinkled on top.