Ratatouille is emblematic of sun-drenched Provence in southern France, but it's also a great full-flavoured dish for winter and one of my favourite ways of eating Mediterranean vegetables.
4 red peppers (capsicum)
180ml extra virgin olive oil
2 brown onions, sliced in half moons
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 fresh bay leaves
6 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp dried oregano
6 medium zucchini, cut in 2cm rounds
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 orange, juiced and zest of ½ orange
2 tsp brown sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees fan-forced or 200 degrees conventional.
2. Place the eggplants on a tray, bake for 60 minutes, then remove and allow to cool. Once cooled, cut them in half, scoop out the flesh and roughly chop (discard the skin).
3. Scorch the skins of the red capsicums over a gas burner, blackening them all over (you can also place them under a hot grill). Place in a bag or in a bowl covered with cling film and allow to cool. Remove the skins, discard the seeds and dice the flesh - about a three-centimetre dice.
4. In a medium pot, add the oil, onions and garlic and cook for 5 minutes to soften. Add the herbs and cook a further 5 minutes. Add the peppers and cook another 10 minutes. Add the zucchini, eggplant flesh, tomatoes, tomato paste, orange juice and zest and sugar. Season with salt and pepper and allow to simmer slowly for 45 minutes or until the zucchini is tender but still just holding its shape - the mix will be quite stiff to start but the zucchini will let out quite a bit of water as it cooks, so watch it carefully. Once cooked, squeeze in some lemon juice and serve.