For those of you who had any doubts about the Sydney summer I think we can all safely say that it has arrived. Today temperatures reached a scorching 43 degrees which has left most people huddling close to fans or with their air conditioning on high. The effects of the heat are not just limited to humans as I arrived home to find my cat looking rather dopey and trying to find some reprieve in shady areas outside.
If it weren’t for the fact that I have a large bowl of tomatoes which are on the brink of going bad I would have simply made a salad rather than standing in front of the stove. However, I braved the heat and used my lovely tomatoes to make my version of a ratatouille. There is some debate as to what constitutes a traditional ratatouille but suffice to say it is a French dish of stewed vegetables which usually includes tomatoes, zucchinis, capsicums and aubergine. The version I made tonight was inspired by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and involves baking the vegetables and then combining with a tomato sauce which is cooked on the stove top.
Unfortunately I didn’t have any aubergine on hand but I did have tomatoes, zucchinis and capsicums which I cooked along with a touch of lemon zest, chilli and basil. The result was a rich, sweet ratatouille with a kick which went nicely with a green salad. You could also serve it with some crusty gluten free bread.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 spring onions
- 1 long red chilli
- 600g fresh red tomatoes
- handful of grape/cherry tomatoes (optional)
- pinch of brown sugar
- zest of one lemon
- 6-8 basil leaves
- salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 200°C.
- Slice the zucchinis lengthways and then into thick half moons. Chop the capsicums into pieces approximately 2-3cm in size.
- Place the zucchinis and capsicums into a baking tray with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and season generously. Bake for 1 – 1.5 hours or until the vegetables are tender and started to brown slightly.
- While the vegetables are cooking you can begin the tomato sauce. Heat a large saucepan over a low-medium heat and add the olive oil.
- Roughly chop the spring onions, thinly slice the red chilli and add to the saucepan. Cook for a few minutes until the spring onion begins to soften.
- Remove the cores from the tomatoes, roughly dice and add to the saucepan.
- Simmer over a gentle heat for about 45 minutes to an hour or until the liquid has reduced and you have a thick sauce (towards the end of the cooking time I threw in a handful of grape tomatoes as I think it makes the sauce look pretty).
- Grate the zest of one lemon, roughly chop the basil and add to the saucepan.
- Add a pinch of brown sugar, season with salt and pepper and stir.
- Remove the vegetables from the oven and combine with the tomato sauce.
- Allow to cool slightly as ratatouille is best served at room temperature.
- Serve with a green salad or some crusty gluten free bread.
Number of servings: 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main
Recipe inspired by River Cottage Veg Every Day!, page 362.