Traditional Ratatouille is a famous French vegetable stew made in autumn when the main ingredients (eggplant, zucchini/courgette, capsicum, tomatoes) are plentiful. Purists would make it exactly to the traditional recipe but there are many variations now that people call ratatouille, even versions baked in the oven rather than as a stew. I like to stay true to the original vegetable stew concept but add whatever vegetables I happen to have, such as green beans. Some recipes sauté the individual ingredients separately and then add them all back to the pan at the end, others cook the onion and garlic (and sometimes eggplant) and then sauté everything else together. So it seems that anything goes really and it will depend on whether you have lots of vegetables or just a few, and your preference or patience or time you have available. Recipes will give exact amounts of different vegetables but I think it is quite acceptable to just use whatever you happen to have harvested from the garden (or in the freezer).
Some versions are very oily and tomato-ey. This recipe is a bit drier and less tomato-ey but very tasty and includes a can of chickpeas to add extra protein so that it can be a meal on its own, perhaps served with some crusty bread.
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 capsicum, diced (any colour)
3 long eggplants, sliced
About 400g chopped tomatoes (can used canned; add more if you prefer a strong tomato-ey flavour)
1 can of chickpeas
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp chopped parsley
In a flameproof casserole dish or heavy saucepan, heat 2 tbsp of the oil over moderate heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté, stirring for 5 minutes or so until softened and golden.
Add the diced capsicums and sauté, stirring for another 5 minutes or so until lightly browned. Transfer the vegetable mixture to a bowl.
Add the zucchini to the pan and sauté, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes or so until softened. Transfer to the bowl with the other vegetables.
Heat the remaining oil in the pan. Add the eggplant and sauté, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or so until slightly softened.
Return all the sautéed vegetables to the casserole and add tomatoes (and their juice), chickpeas, dried herbs and pepper. Stir to combine.
Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Stir in the parsley. Serve hot or at room temperature.
The recipe freezes well. When you re-heat it, you can also make a well in the middle of the vegetables, break in an egg (or more) and heat it in the oven at 180C for about 17 minutes until the egg is at your desired consistency (mine is with the yolk slightly runny).