This popular mediterranean vegetable stew is originally from Nice, its name derived from Occitan ratatolha, which comes in turn from Latin (natch). Recipes and cooking methods differ widely, but common ingredients include tomato, garlic, onion, courgette, aubergine, pepper, and various green herbs. Sometimes you’ll find saffron or olives included, and the process might involve cooking the various components separately or together, on the hob or in the oven – really there’s no definitive method. This uncomplicated version is our summertime go-to accompaniment for a Sunday roast. Any leftovers can be stewed for another 30 minutes with red lentils and chicken or vegetable stock, then whizzed up to make a cheap, nutritious soup.
Serves 6 generously as a side
1 onion, halved and sliced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large aubergine, cut into 2.5cm chunks
1 red pepper, quartered and cut into fat strips
1 yellow pepper, quartered and cut into fat strips
2 courgettes, halved and cut into chunks
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 bay leaf
½ tsp each dried oregano and basil or a handful of fresh
Salt & pepper
Heat the olive oil in a heavy lidded saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, lower the heat and cook to soften for five minutes. Add the aubergine (no need to salt in advance – aubergines are rarely bitter these days) and the peppers, stir and cook gently for another 5 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes, bay leaf, dried herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes, then add the courgettes and cook for a further 10 minutes. The timings here are very approximate, but the point is that courgettes take less time to cook than aubergines and peppers. If you have fresh herbs, add these towards the end instead of boiling the life out of them. Serve warm or at room temperature.