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Ratatouille

Michel Roux senior cooks the perfect Ratatouille

Michel Roux senior is regarded as one of the most influential chefs in the UK and a master of French cuisine. Here he shares his recipe for the perfect Ratatouille.

A culinary speciality of Nice dating back to around 1780, ratatouille is a ragout of mixed vegetables cooked in light olive oil. When the vegetables are cooked to perfection – neither too soft nor too firm – it is one of the finest dishes of Provence – you could almost call it sunshine on a plate. It's great cold or hot, for lunch or dinner.

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Serves 4

300g aubergines

400g courgettes

200g peppers, preferably green or yellow, washed and wiped dry

200ml olive oil

200g onions, peeled and diced

½ unpeeled head of garlic (cut horizontally)

800g tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and cut into large dice

1 medium bouquet garni

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preparation

Rinse the aubergines and courgettes in cold water and trim off the ends of both.

Cut the aubergines into roughly 1.5cm cubes, sprinkle lightly with saltand place in a dish. Set aside for 30 minutes to lightly degorge them.

Cut thecourgettes into roughly 2cm cubes and set aside.

Preheat the grill and brush the peppers with a little of the olive oil. Cook under the grill, turning frequently, until they blister and colour a little all over.

Plunge into a bowl of iced water, then carefully peel off the skins, using your fingers or a small knife. Split them in half down the middle, remove the seeds and white parts, cut into small pieces and set aside in a bowl.

Heat one third of the olive oil in a heavy-based flameproof casserole over a gentle heat.

Add the onions and garlic and sweat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, then add the tomatoes and bouquet garni and cook over a medium heat for 15 or so minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

Add the peppers and courgettes, lightly salt and cook for 30 minutes.

Drain and dab dry the aubergines. Heat the remaining olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the aubergines and cook for 20 minutes, stirring once during cooking.

Tip the aubergines into the casserole, stir with a wooden spoon and leave to simmer over a gentle heat for 25–35 minutes, depending on the freshness of the vegetables, stirring every 5–10 minutes.

The vegetables should be properly cooked but not to a mush; you should be able to discern the flavourof each one.

Remove the bouquet garni and garlic and adjust the seasoning with salt and a generous amount of pepper.

Serve straight from the casserole.

NOTE:

Ratatouille is very good reheated, often better in fact. A few beaten eggs cooked with any leftovers are also absolutely delicious.