I first made this recipe last summer, sleepy and saturated with sun after one of those rare golden days spent on the grass, soaking up the rays. Come the evening all I wanted was something light and hydrating; this recipe fit the bill, and is so simple that it’s since become one of my staples for all seasons. It’s made almost entirely of vegetables, delivering a fresh taste of the Mediterranean (even when the weather doesn’t).
When I first made this dish, I had the good fortune to be able to use home-grown garden vegetables but it works just as well with supermarket veg. Unless, of course, there’s a courgette and aubergine crisis, in which case it might be necessary to try to grow-your-OWN-bergine…
If you are able to source the vegetables without hassle then, as I say, this is an incredibly simple recipe. Simply chop up all your vegetables and watch them simmer away in one pan, softening and melding into a pulpy ratatouille. Fresh basil lifts the flavour and offers a vibrant colour contrast, if you’re looking to impress when serving.
Since that sunny summer day, I have been making this consistently throughout the winter, packed out with brown rice and quinoa for healthy Christmas-detoxing lunches. I even escaped the coughs and colds that prowled and circulated through those bitter winter months, so listen to your mother when she tells you to eat your 5-a-day.
But summer is on the horizon again, so I am optimistically preparing for sunny days! Whip up a batch of this and serve with a nice piece of fish for summer on a plate, while we wait for the real thing to arrive.
1 fat clove of garlic
½ tsp ground cumin
1 red pepper
10 plum tomatoes, halved
A handful of green olives (optional)
Pinch dried oregano
A handful of fresh basil leaves, plus extra to serve
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large saucepan. Crush the garlic and tip into the pan, along with the cumin. Cook for 1 min.
- De-seed and slice the red pepper. Add to the pan and cook for 2 – 3 mins until it starts to soften.
- Meanwhile, top and tail the courgette and cut lengthways. Next chop horizontally, so you have semi-circles. Dice the aubergine into chunky cubes and tip both into the pan. Sweat all the vegetables for 2 – 3 mins until they are softened.
- Add the cherry tomatoes, olives and the water. Season well and stir in the fresh basil and dried oregano. Cook on a high heat for a 5 – 7 mins until all the vegetables have softened and the water has evaporated. Serve with a couple of fresh basil leaves.