Maintaining a balanced diet isn’t always easy. Believe me, I know! There are weeks where I’m simply over-enthusiastic about how many places to review and then feel incredibly guilty at the end of the week from all of the rich food. So then I try and increase my vegetable intake, which usually takes the form of salads or blanched vegetables, of which I’ve found ways to make tasty.
But with the weather this cool, my cold quinoa and tabbouleh salads have lost their appeal and I’ve been looking for other ways to up my daily recommended amount of vegetables. I was flicking through some magazines for inspiration (ABC’s Delicious) and came across this ratatouille recipe by Valli Little. Healthy, beautiful and chock-full of gorgeously colourful and tasty vegetables – what more can you ask for?
I did some research into ratatouille as really I didn’t know that much about it other than from the Pixar movie and when it’s occasionally popped up on menus. It’s a French Provençal stewed vegetable dish that originated in Nice, with its full name being Ratatouille Niçoise, which I think has a lovely ring to it. While there’s various ways of cooking it (layering it into a casserole dish or just chucking everything together like I have), apparently the secret to a good ratatouille is ‘to cook the vegetables separately so each will taste truly of itself’, according to Joël Robuchon. And that it what has been done here.
To serve four, you will need:
- 4 tomatoes;
- 3 tablespoons olive oil;
- 1 large brown onion, chopped;
- 1 red capsicum, diced;
- 1 eggplant, diced;
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste;
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves;
- 2 tablespoons torn fresh basil leaves;
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed.
Score a cross on the base of each tomato and plunge into a bowl of boiling water for 20 seconds. Peel the tomatoes carefully before discarding the skin and dicing the tomatoes.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the onion and garlic. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the capsicum and cook for about five minutes.
Transfer the onion, garlic and capsicum to a plate and set aside. Add the eggplant to the pan and cook over medium heat for 5-6 minutes.
Return the onion and capsicum to the pan and stir through the tomato paste. Add the tomatoes and thyme.
The mixture will seem quite dry to start with. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. During this time the tomatoes will release their water and make everything into a lovely, fragrant stew. Stir in the basil when just done.
Beautiful on its own, or with some grilled chicken or fish, or even over a piece of toast spread with ricotta. Tasty, warm and healthy.
Yum! Have a good weekend lovelies xx