Monday, 7 October 2013

Baked Ratatouille

Baked Ratatouille

Long weekend lunch! Today I have a helper in the kitchen. Which is just as well given the amount of chopping up required for this dish!
This is super tasty, super healthy, uses up a whole heap of vegetables and gives you the energy to get back to work (or school!) tomorrow. The reason it's called baked ratatouille is we're first cooking it on the stove, then when it's almost cooked through, placing in the oven with some cheese and breadcrumbs. The crust and flavour from all the veges mixed together makes it even tastier.

Start with a pile (literally) of vegetables. 2 Eggplants, 2 big zucchinis, 2.5 red capsicums, lots of tomatoes (we used 10 small ones. A few tinned tomatoes will also work if they're not in season). 1 onion, 3 cloves of garlic, and some fresh herbs from the garden - basil, parsley and sage. Oh and a little lemon zest. 
Start with the marathon chopping. Slice the eggplant into rounds, and then cut again into cubes. 
 Dice up the onion, nice and finely. Along with the garlic.
First round over. Time to fry it up.
 Start with the garlic and onion, in a large pan, or wok, over medium heat, with a little olive oil. Stir while it cooks until it becomes translucent.
Then add your enormous amount of eggplant. Fold into the onions, so the onion doesn't burn at the bottom of the pan. Let this cook away for 5-10 minutes, until it starts to reduce in size as the eggplant breaks down. 
 I added half a cup of vegetable stock to help with this process. You can also place a lid on the pot to help it cook.
 Go on an expedition to the garden. Find all your nice fresh herbs and grab a handful. We found parsley, sage and basil. Wash and chop finely.
 Keep stirring your eggplant! It will start to brown. 
 Add your herbs and fold them in. I also added a little lemon zest at this stage (but no photo, sorry). Using a microplane, zest in about a quarter of a lemon- always brings some nice flavours out.
 So while your first batch of veges are happily cooking away, time to get started cutting up round 2. Like I said, very glad I had a helper!
Dice up your capsicum- I had 2.5 large ones, along with 2 large zucchinis. Slice these into long strips, then you can cut them into smaller pieces.
The eggplant will have been going for about 20 minutes by now. Take it out and place in a deep lasagne pan. 
In the wok, add a little more olive oil, and pour your capsicum and zucchini in. Stir away.
Now time to dice your tomatoes. Unless you have 2 400g tins, you can throw these in with the capsicum and zucchini after they have been cooking for 5 minutes.
Chopping into small pieces. 
 As above, add your tomatoes after the zucchini and capsicum have been cooking for 5 minutes.
 Stir away and let it simmer for another 5-10 minutes.
Once the vegetables are soft and tomatoes have started breaking down, pour into the lasagne dish with the eggplant mix.  
 Fold it around to combine.
Like so. 
If you would like a nice crust when you're baking this, grate some cheese, and sprinkle about 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs on top.
Bake at 180 degrees c for 40 minutes. 
It will start to bubble away, the crust will brown off nicely so you'll know when it's done.
Dish it up into bowls, and serve either on it's own, or with some bread. Or you could use it as a pasta sauce. Or if it's still uneaten in your fridge in a few days, add a little water and blend it up to make soup.
We added a little chilli when eating too!

 Baked Ratatouille

2 Eggplants (Aubergine)
2 large zucchinis
2.5 red capsicums
10 small tomatoes (or 2 400g tins) 
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
Fresh herbs - we used basil, parsley and sage
Zest from 1/4 lemon
1/2 cup vegetable stock
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Chilli flakes to serve

1. Heat oven to 180c. In a large pan, heat up 1 tablespoon olive oil. Dice onion and garlic. Saute for 2-3 minutes over medium heat until soft.
2. Dice up Eggplant. Add to the pan. Cook for 10 minutes, keep stirring. 
3. Chop up the herbs, add this to eggplant along with the stock and lemon zest. Cover with a lid and let eggplant simmer for a further 10 minutes.
4. Dice zucchinis and capsicums. When eggplant is done, (soft all the way through and reduced), place in a large lasagne baking tray.
5. In the empty pan, place remaining oil, and saute zucchinis and capsicum for 5 minutes. Dice up tomato and add to pan. Let simmer for a further 5-10 minutes.
6. Add tomato/zucchini/Capsicum mix to the lasagne tray, and fold into eggplant mix. Add some pepper.
7. Sprinkle cheese and breadcrumbs on top. Bake in oven for 40 minutes.

Serve into bowls, sprinkle with some chilli flakes and more pepper, then eat!

Makes 6-8 servings.