Feta and ratatouille crumble

Sweet and succulent Mediterranean vegetables layered with salty, crumbly feta cheese are topped with a cheesy, soft crumble to bring you comfort and warmth on a cold and dreary autumnal evening.

I love ratatouille. Originating from Nice in France, it’s a traditional stewed vegetable dish made up of many of my favourite veggies. It’s so colourful, so healthy, and oh so tasty. I think it’s highly underrated.

My first memory of trying ratatouille was as a teenager. In the summer holidays, I often went round my friend Jade’s house and we’d eat whatever we could find in the kitchen cupboards; cold baked beans (still a fond snack to this day), pasta, soup and the like. But by far the most memorable was tinned ratatouille. Never once had I come across this creation. This rich, tomatoey vegetable goodness. We’d warm it up and eat it on its own while watching music channels. I always remember it being absolutely delicious, even out of a tin.

This version I’ve put together is a little on the naughty side; incorporating cheese and butter into the mix. But with four different vegetables, the good outweighs the bad.

Ingredients

  • 1½ tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 courgette, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into small cubes
  • 2 peppers: I used green and orange, chopped into small chunks
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 80g feta
  • 120g plain flour
  • 65g butter, softened
  • 10g cheddar, grated
  • Handful of fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Plenty of seasoning

Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes to an hour
Serves 3 with a side dish (or 2 greedy people)

Method

  1. Put a large frying pan on a medium heat and pour in the olive oil.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the aubergine and sprinkle over a teaspoon or so of salt to help it cook. Cook for three minutes or so.
  4. Tip in the peppers and cook for another couple of minutes.
  5. Drain the chopped tomatoes in a sieve to get rid of the watery liquid.
  6. Pour the tomatoes into the frying pan along with the courgette and basil and stir well. Lower the heat very slightly and leave to cook for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables soften.
  7. Turn the oven on to gas mark 5.
  8. While you’re waiting for the vegetables to cook, make the crumble. Pour the flour into a deep bowl. Chop the butter up until small chunks and tip it into the bowl. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour for a few minutes, until they form a breadcrumb consistency.
  9. Tip the cheese into the bowl, add plenty of seasoning and mix the cheese in with the breadcrumbs.
  10. When the vegetables have softened, pour them into a medium sized baking dish and evenly disperse them along the bottom of the dish. Season well. Crumble over the feta cheese and top with the breadcrumb mix, making sure the cheese and breadcrumbs cover the ratatouille evenly.
  11. Put in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the crumble has browned on top.
  12. Serve with a side of vegetables, like sweetcorn or broccoli.

This recipe was inspired by Plum Kitchen’s ratatouille and goat’s cheese crumble

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Mediterranean potato, tomato and pepper salad

To celebrate National Vegetarian Week and the May Bank Holiday in the UK, impress your friends and family by having a go at making this wonderfully flavoursome Mediterranean potato, tomato and pepper salad.

It’s really easy and cheap to make, looks exotic and appetising, and it’s low in fat!

As the weather slow starts to warm up (if we can brush off this pesky rain), and you’re thinking of organising a barbecue, serve this salad as a summery side dish, or as an alternative addition to a veggie Sunday lunch.

It can easily be doubled, tripled or multiplied further if you’re feeding the masses.

Mediterranean potato salad

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8-10 Charlotte or new potatoes, cut in half
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 5 green olives
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 200g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
  • A small handful of fresh basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 25 minutes
Serves 2

Method

1. Half-fill a medium to large saucepan with cold water and sprinkle in a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil.
2. Pour the olive oil into a decent sized frying pan and put on a medium heat. Add the onion slices and fry for 5-7 minutes, until they begin to soften.
3. Meanwhile, when the water has boiled, add the potatoes and cook them following the pack instructions – which is usually around 15-20 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and oregano to the frying pan and and cook for a minute or so, stirring frequently.
5. Tip in the sliced pepper and fry for a further 5-7 minutes, stirring often.
6. Pour in the chopped tomatoes and season well at this point. Bring the sauce to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Prod one of the potatoes with a knife and if it’s quite soft, they’re ready. Drain them over the sink using a colander.
8. Mix the potatoes and olives in with the tomato mixture and heat through for a few minutes. Give the sauce a taste and see if it needs more seasoning.
9. Serve the mixture in a large bowl. Tear the basil leaves into small pieces and scatter over the mixture.

If you make this dish, I’d love to hear how you get on with it. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

This recipe is based on BBC Good Food’s Mediterranean potato salad.