Cooking in Colour is a column of recipes developed by culinary artists of colour. We're happy and honoured to create this space for queer Afro-Caribbean chef Alexander Archer to share with us some of his favourite recipes.
above image description: ratatouille
Ratatouille (yes, like the movie, but with 100% less civilized rat), is a very simple French recipe with great flavours that are always in season. Easy to execute and master, it is also a very flexible recipe, so if you feel like you want to add or take away from this particular dish, then you're absolutely free to do so as you please.
You'll absolutely need a sharp and reliable knife, a can opener, and a heavy bottomed pot or a high-walled sauce pan to be able to make this, so it's something most people will be able to make, scout's honor!
This recipe is both vegetarian and vegan.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
1 can of tomatoes (either whole tomatoes you crush by hand or already crushed tomatoes)
1 can white kidney beans, drained
1 handful cleaned button mushrooms
1 large zucchini, cut into half moons
1 medium eggplant, medium diced
2 bell peppers, medium diced
1 large onion, sliced as thinly as possible
5 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp sage
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp ground oregano
2 tsp ground rosemary
2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 leaves fresh basil
salt to taste
- Make sure all your vegetables are prepared beforehand and within reach when you're ready to cook; this is a recipe that comes together very quickly before simmering for a while, so being ready makes everything a lot easier. It's also a wonderful habit to have for any kitchen work. Mise en place is the most important ingredient for any dish.
- In your large saucepan, heat up the 2 tbsp of canola oil over high heat until it's shimmering (you can test how hot your oil is with a very quick flick of water; if it sizzles rapidly, it's ready).
- Next, begin sweating off the onions and garlic together. Sweating is cooking ingredients to begin removing some of their water but not to the point where they begin to take on much colour. You're looking to make these ingredients fragrant; if you can smell the garlic strongly, then you're doing well!
- Next, add your button mushrooms, bell peppers, and fennel, cooking them the same way you did the onions and the garlic, again, working to make the bell peppers and fennel as fragrant as possible.
- Once the bell peppers are fragrant, you can add your eggplant, sage, oregano, rosemary, and nutmeg to the mix, cooking them down as well.
- Once the eggplant looks like it's shrunken in size a bit, then add your zucchini and white beans to the blend.
- Pour in your tomatoes and lower the heat to medium, stirring to make sure all the ingredients are properly coated. Now is a good time to begin adding salt to flavour. At this point, you're cooking down the ratatouille to help cook all your vegetables through and, at the same time, to reduce the amount of liquid; this is a stew, not a soup.
- Once the stew looks a bit thick, add the basil and you're done!
This recipe will serve between 4-6 people, and it also keeps well for a week and change. Make some at the beginning of the week and have something reliable for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!