To celebrate the start and end of summer, this weekend my family and I decided to have a delicious BBQ, washed down with lots of lovely Pimm’s.
Seeing as the weather was so impromptu and we’d been slaving away at work, we decided to keep it simple and have lamb chops, bratwurst and ratatouille. The bratwurst may seem like a surprising choice, but having lived in Germany as as child, it has always been a family favourite (especially when doused in mayonnaise).
I can’t take credit for the BBQ – my dad’s the expert – but I was in charge of the ratatouille. First of all, just in case you’ve only seen the film and think ratatouille is just a small French rat…
It’s also a seasonal stew that combines aubergine, courgette, tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, a little salt and pepper and some torn basil. It makes a lovely accompaniment to a BBQ and is so easy to make as, once you’ve slowly fried the onion in olive oil until it’s opaque and added the garlic, you can chuck in the rest of the ingredients (bar the tomatoes) and leave them to simmer with the lid on for about half an hour.
Once everything is reduced, you add the chopped skinned tomatoes (the skin comes off easily once you’ve immersed the tomatoes in boiling water) and simmer for another 15 minutes, before seasoning and adding the torn basil.
If you have more time, you really should prepare the aubergine properly by chopping it up, placing the pieces in a colander, sprinkling generously with salt and leaving it placed under a small weighted plate for an hour. This draws out any bitterness and excess moisture, but as I was in a rush to get outside and enjoy the sunshine, I skipped this step, which I can’t say was noticed when we all came to sit down and eat.
When it comes to the quantity of each ingredient, the beauty of ratatouille means you can be fairly relaxed and just use up what you have in your fridge. On the other hand, if you want to do it properly, go with Delia and use two aubergine, three courgette, two onions, two red or green peppers, four tomatoes (skinned) and two cloves of garlic. This will make enough ratatouille for four hungry people.
Unfortunately, it’s likely I’ll be wearing my leather boots and winter coat by the end of next week, but at least I can look back on an unexpected October weekend of sunshine and BBQs.