Ratatouille

Debate rages in the Western Mediterranean over the “true” way to make this dish. One of the great things about Modern Australian Cuisine is that we’re outside these debates. This method strikes a balance between laziness and deliciousness.

You will need:

1 eggplant
1 green capsicum
1 red onion
3 tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
marjoram, parsley, bay leaves
olive oil

optional: wine; pretty much any vegetable you please (leek, broccoli, fennel, cavolo nero, chilli, spices, potatoes, canned chick peas…you get the idea)

Method:

  1. Discard the top of the eggplant, then cut the flesh into 3cm dice. Place in a colander, and cover with a tablespoon of salt. This removes excess moisture (important before frying) and seems to help remove some of the bitter solanine found in all nightshades (eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, chilli, etc.).
  2. Pat the eggplant dry, then fry in a large, heavy pan, in far too much olive oil – about half a cup. The eggplant will absorb it all, then release some of it later. Do not stir more than absolutely necessary, otherwise it will become sludge.
  3. When the eggplant is browned on two or three sides, remove to a bowl.
  4. Using more oil if necessary, add the diced capsicum. Do not stir. Add the diced onion. Stir once, then leave it, otherwise all the water will be released.
  5. When the onion is slightly caramelised, add the chopped garlic and stir. Now add the chopped tomatoes, the cooked eggplant, a little water (or wine) and the herbs – and any of the other ingredients you fancy – and cook very gently -partly covered – for about half an hour.

This goes well with absolutely everything. Eat it as a side to meat; bake a piece of white fish in it; crack some eggs into it in a ramekin to bake shakshuka eggs (so fashionable); put it
under your grilled cheese on toast; use as a pasta sauce; etc.

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