Ever since I saw the movie Ratatouille, I’ve wanted to try making ratatouille. I mean, how cute is that little rat?! There has always been one thing holding me back from doing so, and that thing is eggplant. Simply put, I don’t like eggplant. To say I detest it and that this particular vegetable makes me feel a little queasy and all kinds of icky is an understatement.
My dad is to blame for this. Because my mother worked incessantly, my dad was the main cook in our family while I was growing up. The problem was that he really wasn’t very good at cooking. He once brought some packet sauce back from Malaysia and served it to us over some nondescript pan fried fish, and the first time we all said we liked it. We soon regretted that opinion when the next night, we were greeted at the dinner table by a plate of random white fish topped with that same sauce. And the night after that, and the night after that, and so on for what seemed like an eternity. But that’s another story.
Obviously I am no expert on eggplant, given that I hate it so much. My dad used to serve it rather overcooked, so it was squishy and kind of flavourless and just really gross in every way. I’ve always thought that there must surely be more to this vegetable than I had been exposed to. And I’m rather pleased to discover that I was right!
This recipe was a good introduction to eggplant because it kind of disintegrates into the casserole and is no longer identifiable as eggplant. The end product is really not that attractive, but it tastes fantastic. I got distracted by the TV so I only cooked it in the oven for four hours, but it turned out quite nicely. We had this alongside a baked whole baby snapper, and the next day it was really tasty on toast.
Preparation time – 20 minutes
Cooking time – 4-6 hours
Recipe – http://www.sbs.com.au/food/recipe/8302/the_perfect_ratatouille
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 1 red capsicum, seeded and diced
- 1 green capsicum, seeded and diced
- 1 large eggplant, diced
- 2 medium zucchini, diced
- 2 strips lemon rind
- 125g swiss brown mushrooms, cut into chunks
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
Heat the oven to 120°C. Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy based, ovenproof saucepan over a low heat and fry the onion for about 10 minutes, but really you can just fry it as long as it takes to chop the other ingredients.
Add the garlic to the pan after the onions. Then add the capsicums, then the eggplant and zucchini, lemon rind, mushrooms and tomato. Season well with salt and pepper, put the lid on, and cook in a low oven for several hours. It’s okay after 2, good after 4 and even better after 6.