Monday night, really blimming chilly, needed a warming restorative meal BUT still healthy. So I made a mash out of leeks and cauliflower which tasted amazingly like bechamel sauce. Some kind of weird alchemy – I don’t know – but it was delicious, and basically made a gorgeous pie, just out of vegetables and a tiny bit of butter and cheese. Tiny.
1 aubergine, chopped into chunks
4 small courgettes/3 large courgettes chopped into chunks
2 red onions, chopped
2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped
1 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
2 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp herbes de Provence/mixed herbs
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp brown sugar
Olive oil, sea salt and black pepper
For the topping:
2 small cauliflower/1 large cauliflower
100-200g parmesan/manchego (either/or, or whatever melting cheese you have in)
- Heat a large casserole/massive pan on a low heat, with a large glug of olive oil. When hot, add the onions and turn up to a medium heat. When they start to soften, add the sliced/chopped red and green peppers, and stir well. After about 10 minutes, the peppers should be soft.
- Add the courgettes and aubergines. Stir well, and add another glug of olive oil if it seems to be sticking. Turn the heat up if you have the time and the inclination to stay stirring it.
- After 4-5 minutes, add the garlic cloves and tomato paste. Cook for another few minutes, stirring and tossing the veg so that everything cooks at the same time.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, stir well, and leave to reduce and cook through, as the courgettes and aubergines will still need at least 15 mins cooking. Add the brown sugar (chopped tomatoes always need a tiny bit of sugar, as they have a slight bitterness) or a bit of honey if you want to avoid sugar, plus the Herbes de Provence.
- Meanwhile, chop the leeks into slim slices (take off the outer layer first), wash them, then put in a pan with the cauliflower cut into small florets. Add a large dash of olive oil, 25g butter, and 200ml boiling water. Put the lid on, and steam for 15 minutes. If all the water has gone, add another large dash/50ml and steam for another 5-10mins. You want the cauliflower and leeks to be falling apart and really well done.
- When they are done, blitz them in a food processor with grated fresh nutmeg, generous amounts of sea salt and pepper, and a bit more butter if you wish. Blitz in batches so that it gets really smooth and pureed. I did mine in my nutribullet but as it was quite hot, I was a tiny bit concerned it would blow up – it was steaming more than I would have liked…
- Turn the oven on to 200C.
- When the ratatouille has cooked down, and is delicious, spread it into a large pie dish. Spread the ‘mash’ over the top, sprinkle the manchego/parmesan/cheddar/whatever hard melting cheese you have in, then put in the oven for 20 mins. Serve with green salad. GREAT for leftovers.