Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Courgette and aubergine stew

This would have been a ratatouille - albeit a cheat's one - with the addition of peppers, which I had forgotten to buy. Normally, I roast and skin them, and add them at the end. But I'm feeling a bit lazy during these early days of my holiday, so probably I would have cut them up and added them with the onions, before the courgettes.

The key is not to stew the dish for too long, allowing the ingredients to turn mushy. So you reduce the tomatoes before adding them. Authenticists might sauté each ingredient separately, before merging them for a brief simmer.

Serves two as a main course, or four as a side dish.

1 medium to large aubergine, cubed
2 plump tomatoes, or 1 tin tomatoes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, roughly chopped
2 courgettes, sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Aubergine is difficult to tenderise by frying, I think. Instead, put the cubes into an oven dish, toss them with just enough oil to coat them, as well as with salt and pepper, and bake at gas mark 6/200C, turning once. French ones, which have meltingly soft flesh, are ready in about 20 minutes. The aubergines I buy in England take longer.

Put the fresh tomatoes, if using, into boiling water for about 20 seconds. Allow them to cool, and peel off their skins. Remove their cores, and chop them roughly. Simmer them in a small saucepan over a gentle heat until thick and mushy. (Another method is to chop up the unpeeled tomatoes, cook them, and push them through a sieve or through a food mill.) Or: pour the tinned tomatoes into a saucepan, and simmer until thick.

Warm a couple of tbsps of olive oil in a heavy pan over a gentle heat, and throw in the garlic and onions. Fry, adding more oil if the vegetables are in danger of sticking, until the onions soften - about 10 minutes. Turn up the heat to medium, throw in the courgettes with a little salt, and continue to cook, stirring almost continuously. The courgettes are soft when their rings of seeds show vividly.

Tip in the aubergines and tomato sauce, and continue to cook very gently for 10 minutes, stirring regularly. Check the seasoning.

I prefer to cover the pan, leave it, and eat the stew at room temperature.


Claudine in France said...

I do like a ratatouille - though I do mine sans aubergine, as I cannot abide them - and it is a tasty dish which makes friends with all sorts of meat and egg dishes.
I look forward to a few more weeks of fresh pseudo-ratatouille to help me deal with a glut of home-grown courgettes and tomatoes!

Pete May said...

i like aubergines but not egg plant says nell may (pete may's kid)

Nicholas Clee said...

Egg plants - yuck. Horrible American things.

Claudine - a glut of home-grown courgettes and tomatoes is an envious possession.