One of the classic ways of using zucchini at this time of the year, when the plants in the garden are producing well, has to be ratatouille. So, not wanting to be overwhelmed by an excess of home-grown zucchini, I decided it was time to cook ratatouille again. Aubergine are in season and well-priced at the supermarket too. The glossy deep purple of the aubergines, the fresh greens and reds and yellows of the zucchini & capsicums & tomatoes … one of the joys of making ratatouille is the colours of the ingredients assembled on the kitchen bench… well, okay, I used tinned tomatoes, but the point remains. Plus, another bonus, it’s a great dish for a person living alone, as I am at present … can be eaten hot or room-temperature-cold, as a meal in itself with crusty bread and a bit of salad, or as a side vegetable dish to something more substantial.
I guess that, like the gazpacho I made the other day, there are no doubt scores of different recipes for ratatouille and, again like gazpacho, perhaps a recipe isn’t really necessary. This time, though, I sort of followed the one in The Silver Palate Cookbook. What particularly appealed was their treatment of the aubergine. They suggested lining a large roasting pan with foil, pouring in a cup of olive oil, adding cubed aubergine (4 small ones in their recipe) and sprinkling with salt. (I enjoy the way the aubergine changes colour as it absorbs the oil when you toss it together.) Then baking for 35 minutes with the roasting pan tightly covered with more foil. They then get added in to the rest of the mixture towards the end, all simmered together for 10 minutes … Another thing about the Silver Palate recipe, it seems to call for shorter cooking time than some others … result, the ratatouille’s not a mush, doesn’t get that unappealing grey-green look you sometimes see … it’s got good colours & the individual components remain recognisable. And, most important, it’s very tasty.