This may very well be the most comprehensive interpretation of ‘eat the rainbow’ on Unsaturated Nat to date.
Going to the markets on a Saturday morning has become my ‘welcome to weekend’ ritual.
I find perusing the stalls for fruits and vegetables looking for inspiration genuinely one of the most relaxing ways to let go of the week gone by and settle into some downtime.
Markets not only have greater variety of produce with different seasonal fruit and veg in abundance throughout the year, they are also cheaper than store-bought, you feel better knowing your money is supporting small and family business, and there’s far less single use plastic packaging.
A few weeks ago on a particularly cold Saturday morning, I was inspired by purple carrots, potatoes and eggplants and wanted to make something warm and comforting.
Now I know carrot and potato – especially of the purple variety – are not normally in ratatouille, but it’s always been a bit of a ‘whatever you have in the fridge’ scenario for me, so I went with it. If any of the veggies I’ve used aren’t in season or accessible for you, just use whatever is – I find most firm vegetables work well.
Traditionally with ratatouille, each vegetable – usually tomatoes onion, zucchini, squash and eggplant – is cooked separately and then combined and cooked further until creamy. But who has the time for that? And, if we’re being honest, the end result is less fancy swirl and more sloppy mess.
Instead, I like to mise en place the vegetables by slicing them all into similar sized, one-third of a centimetre thick discs, and preparing the onion and garlic for the tomato sauce, as well as some herbs for the final touch.
I then make a bed of super simple sauce out of passata, garlic, oregano and onion, decoratively arrange my chosen vegetables in an alternating pattern on top, and finish it with a herby olive oil drizzle before baking for 45-minutes to an hour.
The end result is perfectly poached vegetables cooked in a flavourful tomato sauce on the bottom, and roasted to perfection on top, best served with fluffy mashed potatoes.
It’s a ridiculously simple and delicious way to get loads of different vegetables on your plate without even trying, and is way easier than it looks.
2 medium zucchini
2 baby eggplant
1/4 butternut squash
1 large purple carrot
2 medium carrots
1 purple sweet potato
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
Small handful of fresh herbs – I used basil, italian parsley and thyme
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 180° fan-forced.
Mise en place your ingredients (this is key to this recipe working quick and easily!)
In a saucepan, sauté onion and garlic in 1tbs of the olive oil until softened and fragrant. Add passata and oregano, and season to taste. Once it starts to bubble, turn off the heat and pour sauce into a round oven safe dish.
Taking one slice of each of your vegetables at a time, create little stacks of alternating veggies and arrange in rings on top of the sauce in your dish, starting from the outside and working your way in. Don’t fuss or spend too much time making it look perfect – it kind of just works itself out. I also like to add tomato more frequently than the other vegetables – I find it helps to keep the dish moist when cooking.
Once you’ve filled in your whole dish with vegetables, combine chopped herbs, the rest of the oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and drizzle the mix all over the vegetables.
Bake for 45-minutes to an hour, until vegetables are cooked through, and serve with mashed potatoes, polenta, pasta or rice.