Ratatouille is one of the classic French dishes that everyone should know how to make. It’s one of those things that is easy to make, but hard to make well as you need to judge when to add each individual vegetable so that it cooks to perfection.
Still, even a basic ratatouille makes an excellent topping for something like a baked (jacket) potato, giving you a hearty and healthy vegetarian dish that makes a wonderful lunchtime snack.
Jacket Potatoes with Ratatouille Filling
4 large baking potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 Spanish onion, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1/2 small aubergine (eggplant), chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped
400g (14 oz) tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
a few fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
5 tbsp red wine or vegetable stock
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
For perfect jacket potatoes you need potatoes of even size (about 275g [10 oz] each is ideal). Scrub the potatoes clean and prick all over with the tines of a fork. Brush with a little butter or oil then sit on a baking tray and transfer to an oven pre-heated to 200ºC (400ºF, Gas Mark 6) and bake for about 60 to 75 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft when gently squeezed.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and use to fry the onion gently for about 4 minutes, or until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute then stir in the aubergine and the bell peppers. Fry the mixture over medium heat until it just begins to soften.
Add the tomatoes, tomato purée, oregano, basil and wine or stock. Bring gently to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced slightly.
When the potatoes are cooked cut them in half and arrange on a serving plate. Season the ratatouille to taste, then spoon the mixture over the potatoes.