Food&Drink Writer Akeefah Lal Mahomed shows us how to cosy up this winter with a hearty ratatouille recipe

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Ratatouille is the perfect recipe to make use of all your seasonal vegetables. This dish is packed with lots of flavour, and is great for a homely meal. Inspired by Chef Remy from Ratatouille, I have also been inspired by jlc.bakes for the sauce blend and from Tasty for the vegetable drizzle.

Ingredients

For the sauce:

1 can (375g) chopped tomatoes
1 stick of celery, chopped
1 (large) onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
8 leaves of basil, chopped
To taste: salt, pepper, thyme, oregano (can interchange oregano with parsley)

For the veg:

1 squash (most recipes recommend yellow squash, but orange works just as well)
1 aubergine
2 tomatoes
2 courgette
4 tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, crushed
8 basil leaves, chopped
1tsp thyme
1tsp oregano
Free measure: salt and pepper

Method:

Firstly, heat two tbsp of olive oil on low-medium heat. Sauté the chopped carrots, celery, and onion for about 10 minutes. Add the chopped garlic, stirring occasionally for five minutes. Add one can of chopped tomatoes and leave on a low heat for for minutes. Turn the heat off and blend the mixture to create a smooth-textured sauce. If you are using a hand blender you can do this in-pan, however if you are transferring to a blender make sure you let the mixture cool a little to avoid shattering the jug. Once blended, add the chopped basil leaves, and stir. Take the sauce off the heat and let it cool to the side whilst you carry on with the rest of the recipe.

To make the herb drizzle for your vegetables, mix together four tbsp of olive oil, thyme, oregano, chopped basil leaves and crushed garlic in a bowl.

Next, chop your vegetables into circles that match the size of your courgettes when sliced. Vegetables in the U.K. come in all shapes and sizes, making it difficult to create similar sized shapes if you don’t own a mandolin. If you find this difficult, a trick is to use a small cookie cutter to create uniform circles.

Fill an oven-proof dish ¾ of the way full with the tomato sauce. The sauce should have cooled at this point but does not have to be completely cold. After levelling your sauce, layer the vegetables, moving from outside-in around the dish. The order of the vegetables is up to you, however you may want to follow a repeated pattern of contrasting colours to create a distinctive effect. Sprinkle this layer of vegetables with salt and pepper using your hands. Now drizzle the herb sauce made earlier onto the vegetables. Try to distribute this evenly using a spoon – add more olive oil to the mix if necessary.

Cover the dish with foil and cook on 180-degrees for 40 minutes. After that, remove the foil cover and lower the heat to 150-degrees, cooking for a further 15-20 minutes. Reheat to serve. For presentation when serving the ratatouille, dish the tomato sauce into a circle shape and then place the vegetables on top.

You will probably find that you have extra vegetables leftover – put these on a flat tray, drizzle in the same olive oil herb sauce and roast in the oven in last 15 minutes after taking the foil off your ratatouille. You can use the scraps in other meals.


Looking for more recipe inspiration? Check out more from Food&Drink: 

Recipe: Three-Course Pumpkin Dinner

Food of the Fortnight: Cheese Scones

Recipe: Lentil and Parsnip Curry

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