I love, love, love travelling, and I’m so lucky that my job involves visiting all sorts of wonderful places and eating all sorts of amazing food. If there’s one drawback (there has to be one, right?) it’s that I tend to put on a little ‘food baby’ every time I go. There’s so much scrummy food, it’s find it impossible to resist. So when I’m at home, I try and cook delicious food that cuts down on the ol’ carbs and focuses on colourful, healthy, tasty ingredients. This ratatouille with spiced, roasted chicken is a good start!
I was telling the people that follow me on Instagram (and if you don’t, WHY don’t you?! ) that one of my proudest foodie moments was being invited to a special masterclass with one of my absolute food heroes, chef Hélène Darroze, holder of two Michelin stars at Hélène Darroze at the Connaught, and the inspiration for the character of Colette in Disney’s wonderful Ratatouille. Hélène taught us how to make her own version of ratatouille and I’ve made it an awful lot since (although with considerably less skill than my heroine). I tend to do it at the end of the week when there’s a few bits and pieces of veggies left in the fridge, so although it might not be a classic ratatouille, it’s very tasty, and the perfect accompaniment to grilled meat or fish.
I think classically, ratatouille should contain onions, courgettes, aubergines, and peppers, but if you’ve got anything else lying around that will cook in roughly the same time, bung it in. When I cook butternut squash, for example, I tend to chop and roast the whole thing and then use it during the week for dinners and soups, etc, so I often have some in the fridge and I’ll add that in for the last five minutes. Green beans are good in it too. Just make sure everything is roughly the same size.
Again, traditionally it should probably have Herbes de Provence, but I have thyme and basil in the garden so I tend to use one or the other, plus a couple of bay leaves. But use whatever you fancy. If you want to, you can pour boiling water over the tomatoes and take the skins off, but I didn’t bother on this occasion. I also occasionally use a tin, but if you do, add a pinch of sugar.
Here’s how to do it:
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
2 red onions, cut into chunks
2 or three peppers (red or yellow, never green!)
1 vine of tomatoes, or one tin of plum tomatoes
Anything else you have lying around (see above)
2 bay leaves
Fresh thyme or basil
Firstly, prepare all your vegetables. Chop the onions, peppers and aubergine, and chop the tomatoes, taking out the little woody bit by the stalk.
Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a saucepan and add in the minced garlic. Stir briefly then add in the rest of the vegetables (and tin of tomatoes plus pinch of salt if using) and don’t forget to add the herbs. Season with salt and pepper, pop the lid on and let it cook on a low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. This is also the perfect time to grill some chicken breasts, sprinkled with a little cayenne or Espelette pepper.
After 20 minutes, everything should be lovely and soft. Serve a big bowl of the vegetables topped with the chicken (fish out the bay leaves) and a bit of extra basil or thyme. I often make double because it makes such a quick lunch and is great served with an omelette or as an accompaniment to grilled fish. It’s filling, tasty and very healthy. What’s not to love?!