This weekend saw the first ripe aubergines in the greenhouse, which I picked along with a basket of tomatoes and two red cayenne chillies.
I decided to herald the occasion by preparing a ratatouille with one of the aubergines (keeping the chillies aside for a future dish).
A bowlful of the larger Shirley tomatoes were skinned and chopped.
Meanwhile, I sliced the aubergine and a large courgette with aspirations of marrow-dom that had been picked a few days earlier, along with a couple of our onions; then split a couple of the smaller garlic bulbs into cloves which I scattered among the vegetables in two glass dishes. I added olive oil and tossed the vegetables until they were evenly coated, then roasted them at 180°C in a fan oven for about 40 minutes.
The dishes were removed from the oven and left to cool slightly, their sweet heady smell filling the kitchen. Once cool enough to handle, I picked out the cloves of garlic to squeeze their sweet contents back into the vegetables before discarding the skins.
The chopped tomatoes were then added to the vegetables along with light seasoning, and the dishes returned to the oven at a slightly cooler temperature for another 40 minutes or thereabouts until the tomato juice had reduced to give a wonderful thick texture.
This was a slight variation on the traditional Provence-inspired dish, which typically includes peppers, but I wanted its ingredients to be entirely home-grown and our sweet peppers have yet to ripen. Some recipes don’t precook the vegetables in this fashion, but I love the depth of flavour that roasting adds so tend to favour this method.
The ratatouille made a wonderful accompaniment to roast chicken.