Ratatouille is usually cooked to an almost soupy consistency, but keeping the vegetables in chunks, like a deconstructed ratatouille, gives the dish more texture and a brighter, fresher appearance.
And I've added pumpkin to the ratatouille and kept watery zucchini / courgette out of it!
Late Summer Ratatouille
500g (about 1 pound) salad (new) potatoes, washed
500g (about 1 pound) firm-fleshed pumpkin (I use grey-skinned crown pumpkin), peeled, deseeded and cubed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
150g (5 oz) green beans, trimmed and cut into short lengths
1 large onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large red pepper (bell pepper/capsicum), halved, cored, deseeded and cut into chunks
100ml (about 4 fl oz) olive oil
1 medium eggplant (aubergine) cubed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
500g (about 1 pound) vine tomatoes, skinned (see Recipe Notes) and quartered
Handful of basil leaves
1 Steam potatoes and pumpkin separately, or boil in lightly salted water, until just tender. Drain. Cut cooled potatoes into cubes if large and remove peel if it is tough. Blanch beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes. Drain and refresh with cold water.
2 Put onion and red pepper in a large frying pan (skillet) with half the olive oil and cook gently until tender and translucent. Transfer to a bowl, scraping in all the bits from the bottom of the pan.
3 Add remaining olive oil to pan and let it get nice and hot over medium-high heat. Add eggplant, immediately cover with a lid, lower heat and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender.
4 Add garlic, cook for 1 minute, then return onion and pepper to pan and add potatoes and beans. Toss gently and add tomatoes. Season with ¾ of a teaspoon of salt and black pepper to taste and cook gently for 5 minutes. Stir through pumpkin and heat through until hot. Scatter basil over top and serve.
Recipes often suggest removing the skin from tomatoes. Certain cooking practices toughen them, and in soups and stews they separate from the flesh and can float to the top of the liquid. Everyone has their own method, and here’s mine. Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Have a bowl of chilled water ready to receive the scalded tomatoes. Lower tomatoes carefully into the pan of gently boiling water and count to 10 for ripe tomatoes and up to 20 for firmer tomatoes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tomatoes to the bowl of chilled water. Try peeling them. If they peel easily, carry on scalding any extra tomatoes, but if they’re difficult, put them back in the pan for 10 seconds more. I find this method absolutely reliable because you can adjust it to the ripeness of the tomatoes.