|Funke Koleosho's "Plantaintouille"|
I first encountered this dish from watching a children's animation film of the same name. The movie was really fun to watch with my daughter who also quite enjoys cooking!
In the movie, I learnt quite a lot, most strikingly, that anyone can cook, even a rat! and also I learnt about the dish called ratatouille.
Ratatouille is actually a type of vegetable stew which originates from the Provence region of France. Its a very simple dish which is made by combining a range of vegetables particularly eggplants, courgettes (zucchinis), onions, peppers, with fresh herbs & spices like basil, thyme. The vegetables could be cooked all together but are best cooked separately, before combined, usually in a fancy, plating style.
As I had not tried ratatouille prior to watching the movie, I checked out a couple of recipes on-line and decided to give it a go. I was quite pleased with the result and I resolved to include ratatouille in my monthly menu (meaning at least once a month, I would endeavour to cook and eat ratatouille!)
There are actually variations of this dish eaten in other parts of the world, variation stemming from the types of vegetables used. This knowledge motivated me to create a West African version of the stew. In addition to the typical ingredients, I added mushrooms and plantains....the result is best experienced than explained. Try it out.
What you need
- Courgettes (also called zucchinis). You can use the green or yellow varieties
- Ripe plantains
- Eggplant (you can use large white garden eggs as a substitute as they are less bitter than the green ones)
- Pre-made red pepper base sauce (get recipe here. Alternatively use tomato purée/paste)
- 1-2 handfuls of chopped red sweet peppers
- 1-2 handfuls of chopped onions
- 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
- Freshly milled black pepper
- Salt to taste (use any of your other preferred seasoning)
- Fresh basil
- Fresh thyme
- Coconut oil
|Layered steamed vegetables before adding sauce|
What to do
- Prepping vegetables. I prefer to cook the different vegetables separately to enable them develop their individual tastes and flavours.
- Wash and slice the courgettes, mushrooms and eggplant. Also peel and slice the ripe plantain. Ensure you cut them into equal sizes for ease of plating/presentation. Steam the vegetables separately with a pinch of salt added. Take care not to over cook at this stage as further cooking will still be carried out. Set aside the different steamed vegetables.
- Now in a large sauce pan, heat up some oil and add the chopped garlic, chopped onions and red peppers. allow to soften a bit then add some generous quantity some pre-made red pepper base sauce. You may also add chopped plum tomatoes, but I did not use it on this occasion.
- Allow all to sizzle and infuse together. Add basic, thyme, black pepper and salt to taste. Also if using, this is the stage you add your additional preferred seasoning.
- In a casserole dish, arrange the steamed vegetable slices and pour over the sautéed peppers/onions. Ensure you make enough to drench the steamed vegetables.
- Place dish in a hot oven to allow the flavours to develop for a further 5-10 mins being mindful of not overcooking the vegetables.
- Its ready! Serve hot or cold. As a starter or as a side dish with rice of pasta dishes.