You couldn’t get more cheap, fresh and easy than ratatouille. In fact I’m struggling to think of a recipe in this whole Cheap, Fresh and Easy blog (which I’ve been writing for four years) which is cheaper and easier than ratatouille. How fresh it is, depends on you.
Ratatouille is in fact a great way to use up courgettes, peppers and aubergines which have seen better days, and that’s perfectly acceptable to do. But using fresh vegetables will make the whole ratatouille cooking experience so much more pleasurable. The smell of a freshly cut aubergine is very subtle, completely overlooked but really lovely. Go on, cut one open and give it a sniff.
If you can chop vegetables and know where the saucepans are kept, you can make ratatouille. It’s probably harder to spell ratatouille than it is to cook it.
I keep my ratatouille really simple, using a minimum of ingredients. Jamie Oliver adds thyme, basil, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar as well as both tinned and fresh tomatoes. But that seems a bit complicated to me. One day I’ll do it like Jamie (and let me know if you’ve made his ratatouille – I’d love to hear from you) but for now I’m sticking to my recipe.
My general suggestion is to use fresh tomatoes in the summer and tinned in the winter. We’re a bit in between seasons at the moment so I’ve used mainly fresh tomatoes with a couple of glugs of pasata, just because I had some to use up.
Other people bake their ratatouille in the oven, but I’ve always done mine on the stove top.
I generally make ratatouille to go with something else but it’s so much more than a side dish. It’s really versatile – great with every type of meat and fish I can think of – but also pretty good on its own with maybe some bulgar wheat or quinoa for a filling vegan option.
Ratatouille is delicious the next day or after freezing. Serve it as leftovers freshened up with lots of parsley and crumbled feta or some griddled halloumi – either on its own or with pasta. Or use it as a ready made lasagne sauce, ladling layers of ratatouille in between lasagne and béchamel sauce. I could go on…. it’s one of my staple recipes and I usually have loads in the freezer. It’s a typical healthy Mediterranean dish. I love it.
Serves 4-6 (but you can be flexible with quantities).
- 1 large aubergine, diced
- 2 courgettes, sliced
- 2 peppers (I like a red and an orange pepper), roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
- 4 large fresh tomatoes roughly chopped, or a tin of tomatoes
- 2 glugs of pasata (or with the tinned tomatoes add a tablespoon of tomato puree). Rinse out the tin with hot water and add to the mix.
- Olive oil
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions gently for about 5 minutes until transparent.
- Add the garlic, peppers, courgettes and aubergines and stir well. Cook on a gentle heat for another 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and pasata, salt and pepper. Cook gently for about 30 minutes.