This is one of my all time favourite foods. It takes many forms, and perhaps the version I have come to love so dearly is not exactly the most traditional one, but who cares? It actually saved my life once, really!
We had just arrived in Barcelona after a flight from Australia, with one night stop-overs in Tokyo and London, on a Asian airlines flight. We had been eating all sorts of interesting yet strange foods, and had lasted, oh...2 hours in our resolve to avoid British Beef. Basically we were feeling a little odd in the stomach region, and needed a meal of 'normal' food... stat!
After settling into our Spanish apartment we headed out to find something 'normal' to eat for dinner. Much to our joy we came across an open market and grabbed a bunch of fresh veges, a lemon and a loaf of rustic bread. Next we stopped into the grocery store for some olive oil, salt and pepper, (and wine) and headed back to the apartment for our a dose of normalcy.
It was the most wonderful thing I had ever eaten in my life. The veges were super fresh, and I can't really describe the taste of onions in Spain, but suffice to say... it was heaven.
So back to earth, and today.
Mum used to make Ratatouille a bit as I was growing up and it was always delicious. It was basically like a stir fry of vegetables with olive oil. But my favourite recipe hails from a book called cooking under the influence - food to drink to, featuring the wit of ben canadier + greg duncan powell which I got for Christmas from my Nana one year.
And what great wisdom does this approach bring? Well instead of adding the vegetables to the pan in order of longest cooking to shortest, it suggests that each element is cooked separately then tossed in the pan together at the very end before serving. It really is just a 'bunch of sauteed veges' approach. It's only a simple thing, but makes for a really great dish. Try it, what have you got to lose?
You will need:
1-2 capsicum (whatever colour you have/like, in the picture I have yellow and purple capsicum, fate decided on that one.)
2 tomatoes, chopped
4 tbsp olive oil, you get get away with less
2 cloves garlic, crushed
a dash of red wine vinegar
salt and pepper, to taste
Cut the capsicum into 2cm cubes, slice the zucchini into 1cm thick rings, and slice the onion . You can use extra veges if you like, I sometimes add in mushrooms, green beans, eggplant, etc.
Get your large frypan hot, you will be trying to cook at a reasonably high temperature. Get out a big bowl, and toss the capsicums in 2 tbsp of the oil. Saute them for about 3 minutes moving them around so that they don't burn. Once they are done, remove to a serving bowl. Repeat with the zucchini and another 1 tbsp of oil, cook for only a minute or so, moving them around to prevent burning, remove to the serving bowl with capsicum. Repeat once more with onion, remaining 1 tbsp of oil, and cook for a minute or two.
Now dump the capsicum and zucchini back in the frypan, and stir in the tomatoes, closely followed by the garlic. Cook for 2 more minutes, then add the vinegar and salt and pepper. Toss for a few seconds. Remove back to the serving bowl, and...um...serve. Or if you like, let it come to room temperature!
It's a wonderful side dish, and can easily star in an anti pasti. With some fresh bread, and a glass of wine it's a light meal. Tonight we are having this as a side to left over Boeuf Bourguignon, and steamed rice.