I think virtually everything in this bowl came out of either my Dad's or my father-in-law's gardens. Thanks guys for the delicious produce!
Well, Abby and Greg have left for the UK, so now the purpose of this blog is really going to come into light. The last time they came over for dinner was the last official Lamb Monday with the 6 of us at our place. I cooked a Maggie Beer lamb dish, but served it with a ratatouille from Stephanie.
I had been given a mass of fresh vegetables and herbs from the in-laws and my parents, so I made an effort to use as many of them in the ratatouille as possible. I love cooked vegetables, especially eggplant, and having them home grown is an added bonus!
The best thing about cooking a dish like this is that it can't really go too wrong. It was prepared well and truly before the guests arrived, and all I did when they came was stick the dish back in the oven to heat it through again, and stirred through a small handful of fresh herbs to freshen it up a little.
3 eggplants, cubed into 3cm pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
2 onions thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
3 red peppers, seeded and cubed into 3cm pieces
3 larger zucchini cut into 3cm chunks
a few coriander seeds, crushed
4 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
freshly ground black pepper
freshly chopped parsley or torn basil
The original recipe suggests that you put the eggplant on a tray and lightly sprinkle with salt to draw out any bitterness. I didn't do this because they were small, fresh eggplant, and I personally think it's a bit of a waste of time. I haven't done this process with eggplant in years.
Then heat the oil in an enamelled cast-iron dish that the finished product can be served. Fry up the onion until limp and golden. Add the garlic, red pepper and the eggplant and cook gently on the stove top for 40 minutes. I stirred it occasionally to make sure it wasn't burning underneath, but it only needs a low to moderate heat. Add the zucchini, the crushed coriander seeds, the tomato* and fresh black pepper and cook for another 20 minutes until the vegetables are all tender. stir through the fresh herbs and adjust seasoning to taste. The best part of this dish is that it can be served hot, warm or cold!
*Note: I made the effort to blanch and peel the Roma tomatoes myself. Once I got to the finished product, I realised I could have easily substituted a tin of the store bought Italian peeled tomatoes and got the same result. It wasn't too difficult to do, but if you're in a hurry, it makes more sense to have a couple of tins on hand.
This made for great leftovers for work lunches the next day too, and it solved a couple of problems for us - gave us plenty of vegetable intake, and it also used a massive amount of fresh produce that otherwise would have lurked around in the fridge until they had spoiled.