Ratatouille Minestrone Hybrid

Ratatouille Minestrone Hybrid

It must be summer because the zucchinis (aka courgettes) have started to arrive en masse in the organic box. As anyone who gardens can attest to, where there is one zucchini, there are many many more. And I guess with all these zucchini around, I’ve been thinking about what to do with them. Two things struck my craving: Ratatouille and Minestrone Soup.

Given the UK’s typically cold and damp weather, I’m almost always in the mood for soup. But strangely, it’s been all sunshine and blue skies for the past week or two. What is going on? I’m walking around in shorts and a t-shirt like I’m back in Austin, Texas again. I’m not complaining. But I’m also not in the mood for a hot bowl of steaming liquid.

So I decided to create a hybrid of ratatouille and minestrone by taking the ingredients from minestrone and cooking them as you would a ratatouille. And how is that, you might ask?

Coincidentally, Nigel Slater published a recipe in last Sunday’s Guardian for classic ratatouille. He reckons that the secret to delicious ratatouille is to cook the vegetables separately, then combine and roast them together.

One reason ratatouille may have lost favour is because it is too often cooked like a stew, with all the ingredients lumped in together. It takes longer to cook them separately, but the individual attention allows each ingredient to keep its own character. You end up with layers of flavour rather than a casserole. Like quiche, this is better served warm than hot.

So I decided to try this approach with my minestrone ingredients: onion, garlic, zucchini, red pepper, celery, carrot, tomatoes and white butter beans. I fried each ingredient separately (except the beans) then combined and roasted them together for 40 minutes, then let it cool before serving.

This ratatouille minestrone hybrid is seriously one of the most delicious things I’ve cooked ever.

The only thing missing was the eggplant, a staple of ratatouille and one of my favourite foods, but alas, I didn’t have any that evening. Nigel may be on to something – the flavours of all the veggies really did come through, and I was surprised by how well the celery worked in the mix.

Grilled PolentaGrilled Polenta

What I love about ratatouille is that its a great vehicle for other foods. Put it in an omelet, bake it into bread as Rachel Demuth does, have it on a sandwich, or do as I did and eat it with some grilled polenta. Add a sprinkle of parmesan if you’d like, or leave it off for a totally delicious vegan experience.

Nigel cuts his veggies large, but I like mine a bit more finely chopped. I think they’re more versatile that way, but feel free to do as you wish.

I’m not the only one thinking about zucchini lately. Check out Tinned Tomatoes round-up of zucchini-related recipes from around the web, and Allotment2Kitchen’s fabulous courgette potato cakes.

Ratatouille Minestrone Hybrid

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 400g tin chopped plum tomatoes, drained
  • 1-2 cups butter beans or other white bean, cooked
  • a few sprigs of thyme (or a sprinkle of dried)
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper
  1. Sweat the onions in olive oil until they are soft, add the garlic and cook until soft. Remove to a deep roasting tin or baking dish.
  2. Fry each of the other vegetables separately, adding more oil as necessary, until each is pale gold. Remove as each one is ready and add to the tin or dish, followed by the tomatoes and butter beans, seasoning with salt, black pepper and thyme. Give everything a good mix around.
  3. Bake at 180C/gas mark 4 for about 40 minutes until soft and tender. If you have time, let it cool down a bit. Stir gently with a handful of torn basil leaves and serve.

Related links and posts

Roasted ratatouille

Ratatouille-stuffed fougasse

Nigel Slater’s Classic Ratatouille [Guardian]

Courgette Potato Cakes [allotment2kitchen]

Zucchini Round Up [Tinned Tomatoes]

8 thoughts on “Ratatouille Minestrone Hybrid

  1. fff

    This is so ODD! I was literally just thinking this morning about how I’m stuck in a rut with lunches because of the hot UK weather… this sounds perfect! How many would it serve? Would it freeze well? Would a large tin of butter beans be sufficient?

  2. Monica

    fff, isn’t this weather, bizarre? I can’t say that I mind it though. At last, the thermals are off! =) As for the ratatouille, I would say it serves 2-4, depending on your appetite and what you serve with it. The two of us almost finished the whole batch on their own (one of us being a VERY hungry 6’2 guy) and I will almost certainly double the recipe next time – it’s the kind of food that tastes better the next day. I’m sure it would freeze well (I’d freeze it in small batches) and a large tin of butter beans should work a charm. You could also try other beans if you like – chickpeas, cannelini, maybe kidney beans (though I quite like the color of the white beans here). You could also try adding other veggies if you have them. I’m SURE eggplant would be amazing with this. Let me know if you try it and how it turns!

  3. Mom

    This does sound delicious, Monica. And to serve it with polenta, what a stroke of genius! Have never tasted "grilled polenta" but I imagine corn grills beautifully in just about any form. I’m curious about the celery in your recipe, am surprised it worked so well here too! I think I’d enjoy a few shreds of parmesan on top, as you suggested.

  4. fff

    It is! I guess it makes up for the terrible, terrible winter… but it won’t last long so we should enjoy it while we can! 🙂 I’ll probably double the batch too in that case. Leftovers are amazing! Oh, and chickpeas taste great with everything… will let you know how I get on! Thanks for the help. 🙂

  5. Monica

    Grilled polenta is my favorite way to have polenta. =) So good! And the celery certainly is a curiosity – a surprisingly good curiosity at that. It freshens things up a bit and adds a nice crunch.

    fff – You have a very good point about this weather – just this morning I was wondering why I bothered going for a swim indoors when I could have gone for a nice cycle ride outside. Habit, I guess. I should go outside right now in my t-shirt and enjoy the sun – just because I can! Hope your double batch of ratatouille turns out well!

  6. Barbara

    You’re right about cooking the vegetables separately for ratatouille, Monica. It does make a difference. Yours looks delicious! And together with polenta – a perfect marriage. I am going to make it as soon as my squash plumps up a bit.

    And I love your photos of your trips and camping adventures. What a lovely blog. 🙂

  7. Lori

    Oh my gosh, YUM! I LOVE Ratatouille! Yours sounds absolutely amazing. I cannot wait to try it out! And what a beautiful blog you have. I really like it! Glad you commented on mine- now I can read yours!


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