Is there such a thing? I could write a long piece on everything you need to know about ratatouille, but there is no point because Felicity Cloake already did an incredible job of doing just that in this piece for The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/wordofmouth/2010/jul/15/how-to-make-perfect-ratatouille
The long and short of it is there is no “classic” recipe, only classic ingredients, and beyond that the world is your oyster! After a few tries, I decided Felicity has pretty much nailed it with her Stew-Then-Bake combo approach.
The best thing about ratatouille is its versatility. Pretty much anyone can eat it! Its #glutenfree, #dairyfree and #vegan. Its refreshing at the end of a warm summer day, and compliments a BBQ perfectly. On a cold winter evening its warming, homely and comforting. Its basically your 5 a day in one dish. And it can be whipped up in minutes if you wish.
Proportions aren’t important, build it to your taste. Here’s how we put our stamp on it:
- Start with a marinara style sauce. Chop some onion – as fine or coarse as you fancy – and soften in olive oil. When its nearly ready, add in some minced garlic and mixed herbs (dried or fresh bouquet garni). Next a dollop of tomato puree and some grated carrot,and finally some tinned tomatoes. Simmer a little to thicken and set aside.
- Thinly slice a selection of vegetables. Try to choose ones that keep their structure when cooked, and slice nice and thin with ease. I’ve used aubergine, courgette and butternut squash.
- Choose your dish. I use cocotte pots (shown below, £2.99 each at B&M) but any ovenproof dish with a well-fitting lid will do. It doesnt have to be individual portions either – why not make a family sharer?
- Start to layer up. Begin with a good thick layer of marinara style sauce as this will boil up through the other veg once in the oven and prevent the slices from burning to the dish base. Fill your dish with as much veg and as many layers as you like, finishing with a neatly arranged top layer. Drizzle with olive oil and top with a sprig of fresh thyme.
- Into the oven, 120 degrees, for around an hour, or until the veg is soft all the way through. A bigger, deeper dish will take longer. The low temperature means it won’t burn fast if you leave it bit longer than planned, and a well fitting lid will prevent the dish from drying out.
Eat it as soon as its cool enough, or if you’ve planned ahead you can refridgerate for two days. The flavour will mature too, so it will get even better.