This is a recipe for ratatouille for one of my best friends. It is also a recipe for life*.
You asked me to teach you to cook and I promised you ratatouille***.
In my opinion, the number one mistake a novice chef can make is to learn a very specific, difficult to make dish. It’s all well and good for impressing someone one time with your flashy chef skills and knowing how to slice sashimi but if they come back for seconds are you going to repeat the same dish? No. No you’re not.
Or if you do… Actually that is fine. Life is short. Make repeat dishes if you want to.
BUT if you don’t want to, if you want to have a life of variety and ease: you want a dish like ratatouille. Traditionally it was a ‘use all your vegetable leftovers’ dish and so it means that you can still mix and match with your choice of ingredients and the quantity. You can have it with just about any carb on the planet and it goes with every drink under the sun. And you can make it your own.
Sera, in this moment I have realized what all my closest friends, as different as you all are from each other, have in common. You all have taught me time and again that it is ok for me to be an assembled puzzle with diverse origins fractiously melded together because this is how I am my own person. And being your own person and figuring out your own path in life is kind of what it’s all about, isn’t it? But I would not be the me I am if it had not been for all those strange and unique pieces of inspiration that I used to be so self conscious about and that I never thought would fit together.
The lesson of ratatouille is this: sometimes it is ok to go off script and get creative. Try out a number of different options and have fun!
So thank you Sera. I’m really glad I met you when I was twelve although I am sorry for calling you Sera when that wasn’t your name. I think I was trying to be funny. But you and I both know it isn’t funny. Is it Sera?
ALSO Happy Birthday!
1 large red onion
6 cloves of garlic
1 large eggplant
2 zucchinis/ courgettes
1 large red pepper
1 large green pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
1 small can tomato puree
Italian mixed Herbs (to taste but approx 2 tsp)
Chillies (optional and to the chef’s taste)
1/4 cup Olive Oil
A splash of Balsamic Vinegar
1 tsp of white caster sugar
Salt/ Black Pepper
- Preheat the oven at 420 degrees fahrenheit or 220 degrees celsius
- Dice all the fresh vegetables and onion into large chunks (approx 4cm wide and 2 cm thick) of roughly equal size mix them in a bowl with salt, pepper, mixed herbs, diced tomatoes and olive oil (as well as the chillies if you choose to)
- Place them in a baking tray and into the oven for 40 mins or until the top tips of the vegetables have begun to brown slightly****
- Add in the tomatoes, puree, balsamic and sugar mixing well before returning it to the oven for another 20 minutes.
- Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve with your choice of side.
*Not really, it’s just a recipe for ratatouille.
**Her name is not even Sera
***Disclaimer: this is not the traditional Niçoise method of cooking it, so don’t even start with me.
****Genuine top tip: get to know if your oven burns hotter or cooler and adjust recipes to accommodate that; Don’t be a sheep to your recipe, Trust your own instincts.