I love ratatouille and so does Frank. We make it when eggplants are in season and cheap to buy. But wait! This year we have our own eggplant harvest. I’ve tried growing the darned things in the past but this year is the first I’ve actually had a harvest. Confession: I sowed about 7000 seeds (that’s a conservative estimate) in 3 or 4 different batches; some in seed trays, some in the house, some directly into the veggie bed; and I’ve ended up with maybe 5 productive plants. I do not know what I’m doing wrong but since I’ve managed to harvest a few eggplants this year, I’m more motivated to try again next year.
So now I have my own eggplant to add to my own zucchini and my own capsicum to make my own raratouille. It doesn’t get much better than this.
Well, if I’d planned my crops more cleverly I might have been able to add my own tomatoes but my old ones are no longer producing and my young ones aren’t yet producing. Timing is everything.
Here’s my ratatouille recipe. It’s VERY flexible. The quantities go up and down depending on the size and numbers of each veggie and my mood.
1) Dice (not too finely) 1 onion and slice 2 cloves of garlic.
2) Add onion and garlic to a deep pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and heat on low.
3) While the onion is softening, chop into large chunks (this cooks for ages and I like bite-sized pieces at the end so they start out big):
- 1 eggplant
- 2 small or 1 large capsicum
- 2 medium zucchini
- 4 tomatoes
4) When the onions are soft, add all the other vegetables, a bit of salt, pepper, a bay leaf and oregano and stir through.
5) Simmer covered, stirring occasionally, for about an hour.
You can add mushrooms, olives, basil or just about anything else that strikes your fancy. I never add water because all those veggies are wet enough. If it’s too wet, at the end I take the lid off to let some moisture evaporate.
Serve warm with a dollop of yogurt and a side of rice, pasta or bread. This time I served the ratatouille with my homemade seed bread which was a perfect match.
That sounds so good!! Do you have a recipe for that bread?
Sure, kind of. I have a basic recipe that I use for everything – bread, pizza dough, gozleme dough, whatever. I tweek it for the variation of dough I want. It goes something like:
– 2 tsp dried yeast, 2 tsp sugar, 400 ml warm water – put those in a bowl and let stand about 10 minutes until the yeast is really bubbly.
– Add 4 1/4 cup flour (for basic white I use 1/2 cup whole wheat and 3 3/4 cups white)
– Add 2 Tablespoons oil and 2 teaspoons salt, mix, knead and leave to rise in its bowl with a tea towel on top in a warm place (I put my oven on its lowest setting – turning off the oven when the dough goes in) till doubles in size – this takes about an hour in my warm oven.
– Move dough to bread pan (I don’t really punch down or knead here but most of the air collapses) and back to rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes (or until about doubled again).
– Put oven on highest temp, when hot, put the bread pan in. Spray with a mist of water.
– Reduce heat to 200 C (390 F) and bake for 35-40 minutes
– Remove bread from pan immediately (I spray my bread pan with oil but sometimes forget so I have to let it stand a few minutes to soften and release from the pan) and let cool on a rack.
I almost always use my own sourdough starter when making bread (not for pizza or gozleme dough). I have starter living on my counter or in my fridge. I use the starter for flavour, not for rising. I find the bread doesn’t rise enough (or quickly enough) if I don’t still use yeast. So I use the same 2 tsp yeast and 2 tsp sugar above but make the following changes:
– reduce the water to 200 ml
– reduce the flour to 3 cups (maybe more if sourdough is wet)
– take a good sized cup of the starter and add when adding flour
– same oil, salt and rising method as above
SEED BREAD VARIATION
I make my sourdough bread above and when adding the flour I throw in a good handful of sunflower seeds and a good handful of linseed seeds. I also change the flour mixture to 3/4 cup whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup rye flour (if I have it), 2 cups white flour
RYE BREAD VARIATION
I make my sourdough bread above but change the flour mixture to 1 cup rye flour (preferably dark rye), 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 cups white flour. I also add about 2 Tablespoons of caraway seeds.
Like I said – it’s a basic recipe but I change it up to give us a lot of different flavours and choices when we’re pulling slices out of the freezer for toast. My husband prefers white bread so I don’t add too much whole wheat but there’s no reason you couldn’t use a lot more. At the levels of whole wheat I use it just adds depth of flavour without adding a whole wheat taste.
We always slice up the loaf before going to bed and put it in a plastic bag in the freezer so we can remove 1 piece at a time. Otherwise it goes hard really quickly.
I know you make your own bread. How does mine compare?
Tip of the day:
To get a better rise and fluffier loaf with heavy flours like rye, add a tablespoon or two of “vital wheat gluten”. It gives the dough a little more strength (?term) and allows for a more satisfactory crumb/lighter texture with rye & whole wheat using a lower % of standard white bread flour.
Never heard of it. I’ll have to check it out. I have tried using bakers flour which has more protein and hence more gluten but that made no diff in the end result so I keep using the cheap flour. Maybe this vital stuff is what I really need. Thanks for the tip.
I love ratatouille! But I’ve never made my own. I’m going to try your recipe 🙂
I’ve always thought of you as such an honest person but I literally can not believe you’ve never made ratatouille yourself. You’re such a great and creative cook – and a vegetarian! What self-respecting vegetarian hasn’t made ratatouille???? Life continues to be full of surprises 🙂 Happy cooking!
Mmm. makes me think of summer!
And it feels like summer. This week the days have been hitting 30 and the humidity is through the roof. All that rain on the weekend was great for the garden but we poor humans are growing mold behind our ears 🙂
Looks yummy. But my son, a normally great eater, detests eggplant, so I would need to leave that out if I want him to eat it. 😉
Hmmmm Ratatouille without eggplant – not sure that would still be ratatouille. I wonder if he’d detest it cooked this way, it’s such a bland taste you can’t really distinguish it with all those other veggies.
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