Cuisine Fiend



Purists of French cooking – look away now. I know, I know – cook each kind of vegetable separately, then put all together in a baking dish and stick in the oven. Or cook on stove top, but still separately. Skin tomatoes. Basil. No mushrooms (MUSHROOMS???? QUEL HORREUR!!!). So yes, I agree that this is a completely unorthodox version – but man, is it quick. And easy.

But as it happens ratatouille is a vulgar dish, or so I learned from an entry on TripAdvisor commenting on an actually very lovely Provençal restaurant. The reviewers were French (trust the natives in general) and derided what was supposed to be légumes confit as ‘une vulgaire ratatouille’ Bof bof.

So there you have it – vulgar it is, so no one should take offence if I cut corners, add mushrooms (MUSHROOMS???), ketchup and cook it super quickly all in one pan.

Easy ratatouille

The chore is dicing the veg – otherwise it takes no more than ten minutes and can even stand while your fish or whatever is cooking (good with fish, ratatouille. albeit still vulgar. bof bof) as it’s quite a bit nicer if not boiling hot.



  • These are for two people, for one meal. You might well double the amounts as ratatouille keeps rather well in the fridge until the next day and can be re-heated or, scandalously, eaten cold…
  • one onion
  • 1 large red pepper or 2 smaller, one red one yellow for vibrant colour
  • a handful of cup mushrooms
  • 1 medium courgette
  • 1 small aubergine
  • a good handful of cherry tomatoes
  • smoked paprika, mustard seeds, dried thyme and dried tarragon
  • a glug of ketchup
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil


Core and deseed the peppers, top and tail the courgette and aubergine, halve the tomatoes and squeeze out the seeds. Dice all the vegetables except tomatoes in pieces of about 1 x 1 cm. You can really chop them as small or as chunky as you like as long as the pieces are all roughly the same size.

Heat a good swig of oil in a large pan on high-medium heat. Add the onions, cook a minute on high (as long as they don’t burn or catch) stirring a couple of times, then add the peppers. Cover with a lid and cook for a couple of minutes. Throw in the mushrooms, stir and cook covered again for a minute or two. Add the courgettes, then the aubergines, cook covered for a while again and at this point add the seasoning except salt and pepper – salt would draw moisture out and make it rather saucy and we don’t want soup.

Cooking ratatouille

When the aubergines soften, throw in the tomatoes, stir well and turn the heat down a little. Make sure all the time that the ratatouille is cooking on as high heat as possible without catching on the bottom of the pan. Add a little ketchup, plenty salt and pepper, stir well and take off the heat. Let it stand for a few minutes and serve.

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