Stew Pots: The perfect Provencal vegetable stew (Ratatouille)

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So good they named a film after it! The dish of the 80’s is still a firm favourite of Hot Flush with all the colourful veggies and healthy goodness.

This traditional Mediterranean recipe, sounds like a long and laborious way to prepare it but honestly, the results are worthwhile.

A really tasty ratatouille requires ripe veg, plenty of olive oil, and a good dose of patience: the long slow cooking gives you deliciously soft, creamy vegetables and an almost jammy sauce. Not your average vegetable stew, it’s the perfect vegetable stew.

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Serves:          4-6

Prep time:     10 minutes

Cook time:    2 hour 50 minutes

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ingredients

  • 2 red peppers cut in half and deseeded
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into small dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced – one kept separate
  • 350g ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into small chunks, plus juices
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme, plus 1tsp thyme leaves
  • Pinch saffron
  • 1bsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 courgettes, thinly sliced
  • 1 aubergine, thinly sliced
  • 4 large tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for serving
  • 1 garlic cloves, minced

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 230C (fan), cut the peppers in half, removing the seeds and pith, and place them cut side down on a lightly oiled baking tray. Roast for 20 minutes until the skin has blistered, then remove and leave to cool, turning the oven down to 140C.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over a low heat, in a heavy based oven proof pot, add the onion and cook until very soft, but not browned (about 8 mins), adding 3 cloves of minced garlic 5 mins in. Stir in the chopped peeled tomatoes and their juices, and the sprigs of thyme, and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
  3. Peel the pepper, cut into small dice and add to the pot to soften along with the saffron. Remove the thyme, season to taste, and stir in the vinegar.
  4. Arrange the sliced vegetables in layers over the top. Mix the remaining clove of garlic with the extra virgin olive oil and thyme leaves, season and sprinkle over the top. Cover tightly with foil, and put in the oven for 2 hours until the vegetables are tender to the point of a knife.
  5. Remove the foil, and cook for 30 minutes more – if the top starts to brown, cover loosely with the foil again. If there is any liquid left in the dish after cooking, decant it into a small pan, and reduce over a medium heat, then pour back in the pot. At this point it can be kept for a couple of days.
  6. Just before serving, re-heat if preferred, then put the ratatouille under a hot grill until lightly browned. Serve with brown rice, past, or dolloped on a jacket potato.

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