Grandma likes to use a wok for this quick ratatouille, a family dish for summer when eggplant, peppers, zucchini and tomatoes are at their best down at the Mas in Languedoc. The wide cooking surface of a wok spreads the vegetables so they cook more quickly and are easy to toss in the pan, but a regular frying pan can be used instead. We serve ratatouille hot or at Mediterranean room temperature as an accompaniment to grilled sausages, fish or chicken, or on its own on toast for supper. A medium can of chopped plum tomatoes can be substituted for the fresh ones.
Serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 medium eggplant (about ½ lb/225 g), cut in 3/4-inch/2-cm chunks
Salt and pepper
1 red pepper, halved, seeded and sliced
1 green pepper, halved, seeded and sliced
1 lb/450 g plum tomatoes, cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 small zucchini (about 1/2 lb/225 g), halved and sliced
Small bunch of basil
1. Heat half the oil in the wok and fry the onion over a medium heat until limp, 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, thyme and coriander with the eggplant, salt, pepper and remaining oil and continue frying 2 minutes stirring constantly. Stir in the red and green peppers. Continue frying, stirring often, until the peppers start to wilt, 2-3 minutes.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and continue cooking, continuing to stir, until the tomatoes are soft but not mushy, 5 minutes or more depending on their ripeness. Finally stir in the zucchini, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Cover the wok and cook over a medium heat for a further 8-10 minutes until all the vegetables are softened, but still holding their shape. Meanwhile, strip the basil leaves from the stems and coarsely shred them.
3. When the vegetables are softened, stir in the basil, taste, and adjust the seasoning. Serve the ratatouille hot or leave it to stand for at least 30 minutes to cool to room temperature, taste again before serving.