by Anna on January 25, 2013
While I was at uni, I worked pretty hard. I studied a lot, got involved in a heap of (very nerdy) extracurricular activities and had a part time job. Add in a long-term boyfriend and my spare time was pretty much nil. I’m not complaining – my three years at law school were three of the happiest years of my life (finally, I found my people) but right now things couldn’t be more different and I’m rather enjoying the now too.
I’m in the middle of a nine week break and I feel like I’m finally having the summer I never had while I was studying. In the past week I’ve been to see Peter Pan and The Secret River (INCREDIBLE – go if you get the chance), had drinks at Baxter Inn and lunch at Orto Trading Co (post soon), visited the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, had a birthday party with my housemate Rosie, finished the Art of Fielding and started The Yellow Birds. I’m also sleeping better than I have in ages and doing lots of running.
Evidently, life is pretty good right now. (Is that a strange thing to say? Sometimes I think people are scared to admit things are going well, as if it’s insensitive and boastful, or because it might jinx them). While doing all these fun things is awesome, the best part is having so much time to spend with friends.
One of these friends, Emily, I met at uni. We bonded over the terrible coffee on campus and the obscene amount of reading our lecturers set us (told you law school was fun!). Though I love me some library time, in 2012 we started hanging out with a glass of wine rather than textbooks and last week, over birthday drinks, she handed me a copy of River Cottage Veg Every Day! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. I’m not embarrassed to say that I squealed (and it wasn’t because of the wine). This book has been on my wish list for a very long time (she knows me well!). I had a hunch it was going to become a favourite very quickly and so far, it’s definitely heading in that direction (this ratatouille is delicious). Even better, it’s the beginning of more vegetables and less cake, thank goodness! I was starting to think Sweet Peas was heading in the direction of a heart attack…
Ratatouille (adapted slightly from River Cottage Veg Every Day! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)
This recipe is more labour intensive than many I’ve posted, and certainly more complicated than many ratatouille recipes. But please, don’t let that put you off. Once the vegetables are chopped, there’s very little active time. It’s simply a matter of giving things an occasional stir. It’s absolutely worth it too. The result is unctuous – deeply rich and satisfying without being heavy.
2 brown onion, peeled
2 red capsicums, halved, cored and seeds removed
1 large eggplant (about 350 g)
2 large zucchinis (about 400 g)
4 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper
For the tomato sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 x 400 g tins crushed tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 sprig thyme or rosemary
1. Preheat the oven to 190′C/375′F.
2. Cut the onions into thick wedges, from root to tip. Cut the capsicums into 2 – 3 cm pieces. Cut the eggplant into 2 cm cubes. Cut the zucchini into 1 – 2 cm rounds.
3. Put the vegetables into a large roasting dish. Toss with the olive oil, chilli flakes and plenty of salt and pepper. Roast for 1 – 1 1/2 hours, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are tender, reduced and starting to caramelise.
4. While the vegetables are cooking, make the tomato sauce. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan or saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and let it cook gently for 30 seconds, without browning. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and herbs. Cook at a slow simmer for about 45 minutes, until the sauce is thickened. Season with salt, pepper and the sugar.
5. When the vegetables are cooked, add the tomato sauce to the roasting dish. Mix well and return to the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving. Serve drizzled with olive oil and chopped herbs.
- Serve this warm or cold, but not chilled, Hugh advises.
- Ratatouille is a very fine meal with nothing more than some fresh bread (and maybe a salad?). It’s great tossed through pasta too. I did this with the leftovers, heating them gently on the stove with about 1/4 c of the water in which I’d cooked the pasta. According to Deb, ratatouille also makes a perfect base for poached eggs.