Friday 24 October 2014

Foodie Friday - Ratatouille Pasta Bake

It's been a bit cold, and breezy over the last few days and according to the weather forecast it's set to continue at least for the next free days. Brrr, when it's cold I love comfort food and more often than not that means carbohydrates. This recipe contains one of my favourite things - pasta, Although I'm now a gluten and wheat free chick it doesn't mean that I can't enjoy a starch fest. Here it's combined with another one of my favourite things ratatouille. This traditional French and Mediterranean stew, uses all kinds of fresh vegetables, and the taste takes you right back to the med, sipping Orangina in the blazing sunshine - perfect, and exactly where you want your mind to take you at this time of year.

Ratatouille Pasta Bake 

For The Ratatouille 

2 tbsp Olive Oil
5-10 Sprays Fry Light Olive Oil or Garlic
3 x Cloves Garlic
2 x Onions
1 x Courgette 
1 x Aubergine
1 x Green Pepper 
1 x Red Pepper
4 x Tomatoes
1 x Tin Chopped Tomatoes 
1 tbsp Tomato Puree
Salt and Pepper To Taste 

For The Topping 

2 x Slices Bread
150g Cheese
1 x Clove Garlic

250g Dried Pasta

1. First of all the ratatouille, roughly chop the garlic, and put it into a large, cold pan, turn the ring on and cook for a minute or two.

In the meantime chop your onions into half moons. I'm using red onions but you can use what ever you have.

Add the onions and the garlic to the pan, and cook for around 5-10 minutes, till they're just starting to soften.

2. Now for your tomatoes, I don't particularly like the skin in cooked food because it can be a bit chewy so I remove it. All you do is score your tomatoes, with a sharp knife, and then pop them into a bowl of boiling water for about 5 minutes or so.

3. By this time you onions should be starting to soften and look translucent

Roughly chop your courgette into half moons and add them to your onions, and cook for a minute or two.

4.Them chop your aubergine into similar sized pieces and add it to the pan. Cook for about 10 minutes to the vegetables are starting to soften.

5. Next de-seed your peppers and chop them into similar sized pieces, add them to your pan, and cook for a few minutes.

6. Now it's time to get messy, carefully remove your tomatoes from the boiling water and give them a rinse in cold water to cool them down a bit. If you have silicone oven mitt use just to be on the safe side as they will be a bit warm. Then just peel the skin off the tomatoes, it should come off really easily.

I'm not a huge fan of the seeds, so I remove those too.

Then roughly chop the tomato flesh and add it to the pan.

7. Again cook for a minute or two then add your tinned tomatoes and a dash of water

and then add your tomato puree, and cook for at least 15-20 minutes till it's darkened, and thickened slightly and the vegetables are all soft

8. Pre heat your oven to about 180 C, and put your pasta on and cooks as per packet intstructions. I'm using gluten free penne but you can use whatever shape you like.

9. While your waiting for your pasta and ratatouille to cook, it's time to make your topping, you could just cover it in grated cheese but I personally love a crispy breadcrumb topping. You can do this by hand if your were desperate but I just put the bread, a roughly chopped clove of garlic and the cheese into a food processor

and then zapped it, until it's all combined and crumb like.

10. When your pastas done, drain it and mix half of your ratatouille into it

Then pour it into a large baking dish, I'm using my lasagne dish here x

Then top it with the rest of the ratatouille 

and your cheesy, garlic breadcrumbs.

11. Put it in the top shelf of the oven for around 20 - 30 minutes until the sauce is bubbly and the breadcrumbs are golden brown. How long it takes depends on your oven so keep an eye on it.

Voila - you could easily get 4-6 servings out of this recipe, but it will keep in the fridge for a couple of days, all you need to do is thoroughly reheat it in the oven to keep the topping crisp or the microwave for speed.

Of course the ratatouille recipe would be great served with just plain pasta, rice or a jacket potato rather than making it into a bake. You could also add some herbs or chilli, or even a bit of red wine to pimp it up a bit. Whatever you do though, I would at least try making the ratatouille portion of this recipe. It's a really happy recipe, the colours are so bright and cheerful, and the fresh, taste makes you think of summer, even when it's cold outside x Hope you enjoy x Happy Eating x 

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