With autumn in full swing, oven bakes are definitely my favorite type of meal. This recipe is based on one by UK chef Tommy Banks of The Black Swan in Oldstead. The restaurant was awarded one Michelin star in 2012, and when the head chef left the next year, Tommy took over (at 24!) and managed to retain its Michelin Star since. The restaurant has been awarded the Best in the World 2017 by TripAdvisor, and Banks also reached the final of the Great British Menu.
This ratatouille recipe was already on my shortlist once I spotted it in the September edition of BBC’s Good Food Magazine. Ratatouille by itself is already pretty darn good, and the addition of smoked paprika, balsamic and soy sauce gives the red bell peppers and aubergine a great depth of flavor. To elevate it even further, a layer of cheesy béchamel sauce and fresh goat’s cheese is added. With the topping of overlapping slices of courgette (which always is an excellent combination with goat’s cheese), all layers stew and blend together once in the oven. The cooking time is still short enough for the courgettes to keep some bite, so it almost resembles a vegetable lasagna minus the pasta.
The only changes to the original recipe were that I doubled the garlic, and I slightly upped the quantities of the cheese sauce to prevent leftover ingredients. Banks’ recipe calls for 4 courgettes. I had a mixture of reasonably small but long green and yellow courgettes, and with slices of about 3mm (1/8″), just over 2 courgettes were needed to snugly cover my 30x40cm (8×11″) oven dish.
Chantal and I had it on its own (just some delicious crusty bread to mop up the sauce really is all you need), but it was also great as a pasta sauce.
The recipe (serves 6)
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 red onions, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 aubergines, diced
- 2 red peppers, seeded and diced
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 500ml / 2 cups tomato passata
- 200g / 6oz soft goat’s cheese
- 2-3 courgettes, thinly sliced (green and yellow look very lovely, but is not necessary)
- 500ml / 2 cups milk
- 50g / 1¾ oz unsalted butter
- 50g / 1¾ oz plain flour
- 100g / 3½ oz Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a heavy frying pan and gently cook the red onion and garlic for 5 minutes until just starting to brown.
- Scatter over the aubergine and red pepper and sizzle for another 4 minutes, adding more oil if you need to.
- Season well and stir through the paprika, then splash in the vinegar and soy sauce. Pour over the passata, then simmer for 5 minutes until glossy and thick and turn off the heat.
- Pre-heat oven to 200℃ / 395℉.
- To make the cheese sauce, heat the milk in a heavy saucepan until just simmering. In a separate sauce pan, melt the butter until foaming and add the flour. Stir to make a paste and cook for 2 minutes until golden. Slowly whisk in the hot milk and simmer gently for 2 to 3 minutes stirring continuously until slightly thickened. Stir in the Parmesan and season.
- Tip the ratatouille into a large ovenproof dish, then completely cover it with the cheese sauce. Crumble over the goat’s cheese evenly and arrange the courgette slices on top, alternating between green and yellow if using. Brush or drizzle the remaining olive oil over the courgette slices and season with sea salt.
- Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the courgettes are cooked through and starting to brown.
- Remove from the oven and allow to rest for about 15 minutes before serving.