If a cute French rat can make this ratatouille so can your kids

This aromatic stew is a great way to use seasonal summer vegetables and get five a day in as tasty way

Ratatouille linguini

Ratatouille linguini

 

If you’ve been growing your own vegetables over the years, then you may have tried courgettes. They’re easy to grow and results are quick. The beautiful yellow flowers are edible too; they’re delicious when stuffed with goat’s cheese and deep fried.

Small, young courgettes can be eaten raw with a simple salad dressing: shave them thinly with a peeler and dress with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and Parmesan. They can be cubed and slow cooked or spiralised into spaghetti-like strips. I find the more flavour added the better, so don’t be shy with plenty of fresh herbs, garlic and salty cheese.

Homegrown tomatoes, sweetened by the sun, are delicious in salads or sliced in sandwiches with a pinch of salt. There are now so many beautiful heirloom tomatoes available in shops and farmers’ markets. Summer tomatoes are such a delight in comparison to the pale, firm variety in shops over the winter. This roasted vegetable stew freezes really well so make extra while the summer produce is available and savour it in colder months.

Aubergines are best roasted with a generous amount of olive oil so they work well in this one-tray method. Traditional ratatouille is usually made by cubing all of the vegetables and cooking them in a large pan. It forms a thick, aromatic stew that’s rich in ripe, seasonal produce. It’s a great recipe for avoiding food waste, as plenty of leftover vegetables can be added.

In keeping with this month’s theme of kids helping out in the kitchen, this is a lovely recipe for including their five a day and practising their vegetable prep. It’s a recipe my children were eager to try too,  thanks to the great animated film of the same name. If a cute little French rat can cook ratatouille, then they were happy to try too.

A pasta dish is always a winner too, any pasta shape will work well here, from tagliatelle to fusilli. I’ve used linguini, marrying Italian and French cuisine. This ratatouille makes a really nice side dish to barbecued lamb chops or roast chicken. It’s even nicer the day after once the flavours have had a chance to develop and mingle. Add a handful of sultanas and capers with a dash more vinegar to make it more like the piquant Sicilian caponata. It’s one of my favourite things to eat on thick sourdough toast. The sweet and sour flavours are at their best when at room temperature scattered with a little mint or parsley.

Back to this ratatouille, I find the traditional basil or oregano work best. It’s pure summer in a bowl.

Recipe: Ratatouille linguine

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