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Alexis Gabriel Ainouz's sexy ratatouille
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"Ratatouille is slow-cooked comfort food where the flavours of all the different ingredients combine harmoniously to produce a dish that is greater than the sum of its parts. The problem is that it can often look like vegetable porridge but not here, where it's guaranteed to blow you away!"
1. Using a very sharp knife, cut the tomatoes, courgettes and aubergines into thin slices. As much as possible try to ensure all the slices are the same thickness so they cook evenly. Set the best-looking slices of the same size – at least 5cm [2in] in diameter – to one side for topping the ratatouille and keep the trimmings for the sauce.
2. Roughly chop the onion, peppers and garlic cloves. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the chopped veg to the pan with the sliced vegetable trimmings. Season with salt and pepper and add the thyme and rosemary leaves. Cook for 10 minutes and then blitz in a blender to make a thick, orangey red sauce.
3. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/160ºC fan/350ºF/Gas 4. Brush an ovenproof dish with oil and spoon the sauce into it in an even layer, about 1cm [½in] thick. Roll up your sleeves and arrange the reserved tomato, courgette and aubergine slices alternately on top of the sauce. So that they look really good, you need to overlap the slices quite tightly, a bit like the scales of a fish. Give the slices a final drizzle of olive oil and sprinkle over flakes of salt. Cover the dish with foil or baking parchment and bake for 30-45 minutes. Place the dish in the centre of the dining table and wait for the “wow!” that is bound to follow. If it doesn’t, take your dish back and eat the ratatouille in the kitchen all by yourself. But there’s no chance of that!
Extracted from Just A French Guy Cooking by Alexis Gabriel Aïnouz (Quadrille, £15) Photography ©Dan Jones
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This recipe was first published in October 2018.