For the second Ruby & Pickles supperclub – our Mediterranean Feast in June – we decided to go for one main with loads of fresh, summer sides. Ratatouille is a classic French dish of stewed vegetables which is fairly simple. There aren’t many herbs or spices used traditionally but we decided to spice things up a bit and give this dish a twist. Both Jasel and I experimented with a few recipes ahead of the event and on the day came up with something that was a combination of both techniques, utilising our tastebuds as well as our skills as cooks to hone the taste as we went along. As we did the usual chef thing of a bit of this, a bit of that, I don’t have an exact recipe, but this is an adaptation of the one that I practiced with in the lead up to the big event so should be pretty spot on.
Typically ratatouille would be cooked with thyme, maybe some basil, but this version also includes cumin, mustard seeds, curry leaves, lemon juice and harissa. Vegetable-wise, you can use whatever you fancy. The recipe involves separately sauteing each of the types of the vegetables, so if you’re using different vegetables then just be aware of cooking times. You want all vegetables to be partly cooked, and slightly browned, before putting them in the oven for baking. We added chickpeas, which isn’t a traditional ingredient in ratatouille. This was partly to give it a Ruby & Pickles Indian-inspired twist, but also to give it a bit of protein hit.
vegetable and chickpea ratatouille
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 cloves of garlic, crushed and chopped
- 2 red onions, cut into chunks
- 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
- 1 red pepper, cubed
- 1 courgette, cubed
- 150g green beans, sliced
- 2 fresh tomatoes, cubed
- 1/2 tin of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tin of chickpeas
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp harissa paste
- 4-5 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (option)
- squeeze of lemon juice
- handful of fresh basil (optional)
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, the squash and half of the sprigs of tyhme and cook for 10 minutes until the squash has begun to soften (note, it won’t be completely cooked yet).
Transfer the cooked vegetables to a baking dish then cook the peppers in the pan (add more oil if required) with the garlic. After 3-4 minutes, or when the peppers have begun to brown and soften, move them to the baking dish.
Add the courgettes and green beans to the frying pan, salting them generously, and adding the mustard seeds, cumin, chilli flakes and curry leaves. Cook until softened (the green beans will still have a bit of a crunch) and transfer to the baking dish.
Next, cook the chickpeas in the pan with the harissa and paprika. Cook until the harissa has soaked into the chickpeas, not allowing the mixture to get dry or stick to the pan. Move them to the baking dish.
Finally, add the fresh chopped tomatoes to the pan with the rest of the thyme and cook gently until they’ve soaked in the residual spices from the pan and have softened. Transfer these to the baking dish and stir all the ingredients well to combine the flavours. Taste and season more if required. You might want to add more paprika or harissa at this point.
Drain the tomato juice from the tinned tomatoes and keep it to the side. Pour the chopped tomatoes over the ratatouille and stir gently. Top with pumpkin seeds if using them.
Bake for 20-30 minutes until all the vegetables are cooked, ensuring they are not overcooked. Check it regularly and if it’s beginning to dry out mix through a spoonful of the tomato juice at a time. The final dish should not be too saucy and the vegetables not too soft.
Once cooked topped with ripped basil and squeezed lemon juice, allowing those flavours to sink in. Serve with rice, cous cous, bread or salad.