19 September 2006


Today I made Ratatouille, based on my Mum's recipe. In Bulgaria they also call it Misch-Masch, if you add eggs and feta cheese at the end.

All vegetables are assumed to be medium sized, not that that means much. Just make sure you have a large enough pan for them.

3 onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
0.5 dl grapeseed oil
2-3 tsp water
2 aubergines, diced
3 courgettes, peeled and diced
4-5 peppers, diced
1 can of chopped tomatoes or 4 fresh ones, skinned and chopped
2 garlic cloves
2-3 tbsp savory
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp thyme
1 tbsp dill
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Make sure all vegetables are ready before you start, but it works also chopping as you cook.
  2. Fry the onions in the oil on medium-low heat, when they start to sizzle, add the water to prevent them from burning.
  3. When the onions are soft, add aubergines, courgettes and peppers.
  4. Stir well, then reduce the heat a bit, cover and let cook for 30 minutes, stirring every now and then.
  5. If you are using dried herbs, add them at 25 minutes of the cooking time.
  6. Increase the heat a bit and add the tomatoes, press in the garlic, season and add fresh herbs, then cook for about 5 minutes, enough for the herbs to give off their flavour.
At this point, the Ratatouille is ready, however, I rarely stop here.
Sometimes, I add about 250 g diced fresh mushrooms along with the vegetables.
Almost always, I add crushed chillies along with the dried herbs, I like it spicy.
Also, if you want more substance in it, break two eggs in a bowl, crumble 200 g feta cheese into it and whisk together, then stir in quickly into the Ratatouille.
Today I got the idea to add sliced ochra (ladyfinger) together with the tomatoes. I'll try that next time I make Ratatouille.

At the end of the cooking, the aubergines in particular look a bit mushy and gray, so if you're cooking for guests, I recommend you use peppers of differnt colours to make it look a bit nicer. In the photo, I used orange peppers, which went a bit yellow, but still look OK. I served it with turkey steak and brown rice.

When I was a child, I didn't like food to have texture, and so my Mum would liquidise the Ratatouille. I haven't tried doing that, I can't imagine that it would taste as nice.

Notice in particular that against all cooking tradition, I add the garlic at the end. This is because I don't like the taste and smell of fried garlic. Adding it at the end gives the dish a hint of raw garlic. Also I don't use olive oil for cooking, it changes when it's heated and I don't like that flavour. So I always use grapeseed oil for cooking, but add olive oil at the end, when the dish is ready. In this case I don't feel it's necessary.

Before I wrote this entry, I typed in "Ratatouille" into the German version of wikipedia, trying to find out what the difference is between that and the dish Misch-Masch, but couldn't find anything. However, the description of how to make Ratatouille was that the aubergines had to be fried separately, while the tomatoes and peppers were to be roasted under the grill, to make them easier to peel etc. Frankly, that's just unnecessary waste of time. I don't even bother with removing the liquid from the aubergines, the varieties they sell in the supermarkets are fairly bland anyway, I don't see any reason for squeezing them out even more.

I always peel the courgettes, that's how my Mum and Gran always did and it removes any bruises the courgettes might have sustained in the shop. Also some have prickly hairs on them, so that's another reason for peeling. Keep the skin on the aubergines though.

As for serving suggestions, the Ratatouille is sufficient on it's own for vegetarians, but is also very nice with grilled/fried chicken/turkey breast and rice.
Today I had forgotten to defrost the turkey breast, so we had it with Swedish meatballs and wholemeal bread.

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