This allotment ratatouille recipe is inspired by the classic French dish of stewed vegetables. It tastes delicious, and is a great way of enjoying nutritious British vegetables.
For anyone growing their own vegetables, this dish can be used to celebrate all their hard work. The recipe is easy to adapt to what is fresh and available.
The idea is to slowly cook the vegetables until they combine together to produce a delicious medley of flavours, with a little olive oil, vinegar, and sugar to bring out their flavour.
Watch How To Make Allotment Ratatouille
Get full access to the Home Coffee Shop by purchasing a pass. You will be able to download, save, and print all the recipes. Find out more.
Some people like to peel the skin off their tomatoes, but in this dish I like to use cherry tomatoes, and keep all the goodness that’s contained in the skin. I love the sweetness of cherry tomatoes, and I think they really help the overall flavour of the dish. To prepare them, I give them a good wash and chop them in half.
Any colour of pepper will do, but if available, I prefer the sharpness of a green pepper, as it will provide more flavour. The pepper is first cut into lengths, and then the lengths cut to provide 2 centimetre pieces.
The courgettes are roughly cut into one centimetre cubes. This size helps them cook faster, and cutting into cubes means they mix better with the other ingredients. The onion is chopped finely, and the garlic. I like to prepare all the ingredients before cooking, to make the cooking process less stressful and more enjoyable.
The washed chard should be prepared by separating the stalks and the leaves. The stalks need to be cooked for longer, and I prepare them by chopping into 2 cm pieces. The leaves are set aside – there is no need to chop them, I prefer to rip them up when it’s their time to be added to the pot.
After chopping the chard stalks, boil some water and gently simmer them for 4 minutes. Then add the ripped chard leaves and cook for a further 2 minutes. Immediately drain and set aside.
The onion is fried on its own to sweeten it. Add the chopped onion to a pan, together with a generous pour of olive oil, on a hob set to a medium heat. This is best done in a large pan with a lid, turning occasionally. After a few minutes, the onion should turn yellow and become transparent, and be sweet to the taste. At this stage, remove the onion from the pan and set aside.
Next, fry the courgettes and pepper together using the same method in the same pan. They should be ready in approximately 5 minutes once they have browned and softened. If they start to stick to the base of the pan, try adding a splash of cold water to refresh.
When the courgettes and pepper are ready, return the onion to the pan, and add in the previously cooked chard, both the leaves and stalks. Give the mixture a good stir to check that nothing is sticking, before adding the garlic, and tomatoes.
The dish has a wonderful combination of colours, but it is not ready yet! There is a final slow cooking step where all the vegetables fully soften and release their juices.
To do this, add the remaining olive oil, the balsamic vinegar, and sugar to the pan, and bring the mixture up to a gentle simmer over a medium heat. Turn the heat down to avoid burning the vegetables on the base of the pan, and cover with a lid. The lid plays a crucial role at this stage. It keeps moisture in the dish, and speeds up cooking time, as the vegetables are both cooked due to the heat from the hob, and in the steam retained by using the lid.
For the next ten minutes, keep the ingredients gently simmering, and every so often stir the ratatouille to check that nothing is sticking. At the end of the cooking time all the vegetables should look deliciously soft and juicy. It is time for serving.
I think the dish is best enjoyed immediately, but it can be kept in the fridge and reheated before serving. The slow cooked vegetables should be meltingly soft and sweet, with all the flavours combining together in a delicious tasting stew.