Joël Robuchon believes that ratatouille is best when you cook each vegetable separately, so that ‘each will taste truly of itself’. While that theory might work wonders for a man who gets paid to cook rataouille, it doesn’t go down so well with the likes of busy people like me and most other working adults. While I’ll proudly admit that I’m never too busy to make good food, I will generally find the easiest way to achieve the best results. For example, I’ve been baking chocolate babka for weeks now – think of it like the Women’s Weekly test kitchen over here – and I have managed to cut out a few steps that has not impacted on the outcome.
Likewise, with this recipe from my favourite vegetable innovator Yotam Ottolenghi, I have tweaked ‘Tamara’s ratatouille’ to make it just that little bit easier, and also within the paleo guidelines. I have realised that sticking to a meal intended to be eaten without grains and starchy vegetables is much better than trying to transform a carb-loaded favourite into some kind of paleo-Frankenstein-monster of a meal. In this case, ratatouille is an old French Provencal recipe that never included potato or sweet potato and is therefore ideal for paleo guidelines.
I’ve been free with the ingredients list because this meal is great for using up what you’ve got in the fridge, and also you can include more of what you like and less of what you don’t. You’ll notice in the additional suggestions, I’ve included brussel sprouts and asparagus. It might sound odd to roast these greens, but they both taste great this way. I’ve take to roasting my sprouts lately, as I won’t tolerate them under any other circumstances. To give this meal a little more staying power, in terms of hunger, a sweet potato is the healthiest choice.
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 can of chopped plum tomatos
1 tbsp tomato paste/puree
coriander to serve
Alternative additions: artichoke, fennel, brussel sprouts, mushroom, potato, sweet potato, asparagus.
Unless specified, all vegetables should be roughly diced, about an inch in size.
Start by sauteing the onion, garlic and chilli in some oil, in a large pot.
Every five minutes add a new vegetable, starting with the most dense like sweet potato and parsnip. Finish up with courgette and beans. It’s kind of like browning meat, but with vegetables, sealing in the flavour of each one.
Once all the vegetables are in the pot, add the tomatos, tomato puree and a pinch of sugar and salt to taste. Fill the can with water and pour in to cover about half the vegetables.
Simmer for half an hour.
Pour into a big baking dish and bake for an hour, turning to ensure nothing burns. If it’s too wet, simply pour out some of the juices, and let it cook out a bit.
This meal is best served slightly cooled and warm, as opposed to being piping hot. Sprinkle with some coriander and serve up with grilled meat like pork, steak or roasted chicken pieces.