Felicity’s Perfect Ratatouille from The Guardian Website
2 red peppers
2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
4 cloves garlic, minced – 1 kept separate
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into small dice, plus juices
3 sprigs of thyme, plus 1tsp thyme leaves
Pinch of saffron
1 tsp balsamic vinegar (optional)
3 courgettes (a mix of yellow and green is good if possible), thinly sliced
1 aubergine, thinly sliced
4 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 clove garlic, minced
1. Heat the oven to 230C, cut the peppers in half, removing the seeds and pith, and place them cut-side down on a lightly oiled baking tray. Roast for 20 minutes until the skin has blistered, then remove and leave to cool, turning the oven down to 140C.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over a low heat, add the onion and cook until very soft, but not browned (about 8 minutes), adding 3 cloves of minced garlic 5 minutes in. Stir in the tomatoes and juices, and the sprigs of thyme, and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.
3. Peel the pepper, cut into small dice and add to the pan to soften along with the saffron. Remove the thyme, season to taste, and stir in the vinegar if using.
4. Spread the sauce on the bottom of an oven dish, then arrange the sliced vegetables on top. Mix the remaining clove of garlic with the extra virgin olive oil and thyme leaves, season and sprinkle over the top. Cover tightly with foil, and put in the oven for 2 hours until the vegetables are tender to the point of a knife.
5. Remove the foil, and cook for 30 minutes more – if the top starts to brown, cover loosely with the foil again. If there is any liquid left in the dish after cooking, decant it into a small pan, and reduce over a medium heat, then pour back in. At this point it can be kept for a couple of days.
6. Just before serving, re-heat if desired, then put the ratatouille under a hot grill until lightly browned. Serve with extra virgin olive oil and crusty bread.