Apologies for not posting last week – I always feel so guilty when I don’t post! In my defense I had a 5 day wedding festival down in Tassie that I was attending. I had intended to capture some photos to share here but it was all a bit too hard as I was part of the bridal party. The wedding was a beautiful day with perfect Tassie weather. The venue, Quamby Estate was an amazing location and I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you’re ever planning a road trip around Tassie, book a night in here (especially if you like golf!).
This week we decided to make the most of the end of the summer tomatoes. We made our way to the Queen Vic’ Market late Saturday afternoon and managed to score some super cheap tomatoes just as the store holders were packing up. 25kg for $10, cheap as chips! We went home and made two MASSIVE pots of grandma’s ‘liquid gold’ chutney (I’ll share this with you next week). After the two pots of chutney we still had plenty of tomatoes left so we made around 10L of delicious tomato passata, followed by my favourite summer time meal – Ratatouille. When I was a little girl mum would always ask me what I’d like her to make for my birthday dinner. Every year it would alternate between Ratatouille or Chicken Cacciatorre. Very Mediterranean but it’s what my Mum does best!
I only just found out that Ratatouille is originally from Nice in the south of France, which is literally just around the corner from my grandmother Doule’s home town – Menton. The smell of all the ingredients simmering away instantly reminds me of her kitchen.
Mum tells me the most important part about cooking ratatouille is to cook all the ingredients off individually to ensure all ingredients are browned off nicely. The dish uses a fair amount of olive oil but that’s what gives it it’s delicious flavour (we’ve never been a low fat diet family). Mum would often make this for us as kids and would serve it either with pasta, polenta or rice. Top it off with a good sprinkling of parmesan cheese and you’ve got one tasty (vegetarian) meal.
1 large onion finely diced
1 aubergine (eggplant) diced
2 courgette (zucchini) diced
1 red pepper cut into thin strips
1 yellow pepper cut into thin stips
4 tomatoes skinned (or a can of tomatoes)
3 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1/4 cup red wine
5 basil leaves
1. Cut aubergine into cubes, sprinkle with salt and leave for a 5 minutes. This ‘draws’ out all the bitterness (I’ve read these days most people don’t do this as the bitterness has been bred out of aubergines but my Mum still does so I wanted to stick to tradition). Wipe away moisture with paper kitchen towel.
2. Add a good glug of olive oil to a hot frypan and add onion. Cook until well browned and set aside in a bowl. Next add aubergine to the re-oiled frypan and cook, again until browned. Once cooked set aside in the same bowl with the onion.
3. Next cook off the peppers together until soft then add the aubergine, onions and courgettes all together back into the same frypan. Add tomatoes squishing them down into the stew as you stir. Add chopped garlic, red wine and chopped basil leaves and a good few pinches of salt. Let cook for 15 minutes or so until the courgette is soft.
4. Whilst the ratatouille is cooking, add pasta to a saucepan of boiling water and follow instructions for perfectly al dente pasta. Serve with big spoonfuls of ratatouille piled over the top and sprinkle with good parmesan cheese.