You might call this the embodiment of the Mediterranean diet - fresh summer vegetables, olive oil, healthy etc. There doesn't seem to be anything like an 'authentic' version of ratatouille, but this one is slow-cooked and packed with rich flavours.
Make the tomato sauce
Peel and finely chop the onion, and mince the garlic. Sauté them on medium heat until soft but not coloured - 5-7 minutes. Chop the tomatoes and add them along with the thyme and torn basil leaves. Give it all a good stir and cook until you have a saucy consistency, about 20 minutes. Add a bit of water if it looks like it's drying out.
Prep the vegetables
Wash the aubergine and courgette and slice them as finely as you can - a mandoline is ideal for this - they should be about 3mm (eighth of an inch) thick. Top and tail the red pepper and slice out the core. Slice the pepper into thin rings.
Assemble the ratatouille
Preheat your oven to 200°C (392°F). When the sauce is ready, pour it into an ovenproof dish. Arrange the vegetables in an overlapping spiral, alternating aubergine and courgette slices, and the red pepper too if it's small enough to slot in. If your pepper is too big, you can cut the rings into thirds and arrange them over the other vegetables. Make sure the vegetables completely cover the sauce. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with thyme.
Cook the ratatouille
Cover the dish with a lid or with foil. Place in the oven and bake for 1 hour. After this time, remove from the oven and check the vegetables for doneness. If they are done, place under a hot grill (broiler) for 10-15 minutes to get the top browned and possibly crispy.
SAUCE • 1 can peeled plum tomatoes • 1 medium onion • 4 cloves garlic, crushed • a pinch of salt • VEGETABLES • 1 aubergine (eggplant) • 1 courgette (zucchini) • 1 red bell pepper • a few leaves of basil • dried thyme PLUS Olive oil for sauteeing / drizzling. You can use fresh tomatoes if you like, but you'll need to peel them first.
Makes 2 main course portions Prep time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 90 minutes. Total time: 1 hours 40 minutes.
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