After having ordered the vegetables to cook, what seemed like 500 tons, of Ratatouille for the McGregor Poetry Festival, I was left with unused ingredients. As much as I/we enjoy Ratatouille, it is possible to have too much of a good thing, so what to do with brinjals, peppers and tomatoes? Don’t ask me why I didn’t make Melanzane de Parmigiana, except that with hindsight, that’s a winter dish, I didn’t have mozarella and it doesn’t need peppers or courgette, and we are approaching summer…
Halve and scoop out the flesh of two brinjals, making sure that you do not puncture the skin. The easiest way, I find, is to run the knife around the outside of the brinjal, about 5mm from the edge, to about the same depth, and then to use a soup spoon to scoop it out. Try to keep it in one piece – it’s easier to chop a single chunk into uniform pieces than to faf about with bits. Brush the brinjal shells with olive oil, inside and out; then pop them into the oven at 180°C for about half an hour.
While they’re in the oven, chop an onion, the brinjal pulp, courgette and robot peppers. (If you’wondering why I didn’t salt the brinjals, I explained it here). For quantities, you need to judge for yourself, but roughly equal quantities of each – the amount of brinjal helps to guide you. For this, I used 3 courgette and half to a quarter, each, of the peppers.
Lightly sauté the onion and then add the brinjal as well as a clove of garlic, chopped or crushed. Cook for a while, adding a little more olive oil if necessary. Then add the peppers and courgette and sauté – not too long. Lastly, add a chopped tomato (or about 5 cocktail tomatoes) and a good sprinkling of chopped oregano and a grinding of black pepper, combine. By this time, you’ll find that the onions and brinjals are quite soft, but the rest of the vegetables should still be quite firm and colourful.
The brinjal shells, by now, are lightly roasted and out of the oven. Spoon the filling into the shells and top with crumbled feta cheese and a bit more chopped oregano. Return to the oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until the feta is beginning to brown and the mixture is bubbling.
Serve with a green salad and, if you like, fresh bread.
We didn’t eat all of them for supper and had the rest, cold, for lunch, and it was equally delicious. Consequently, this quite a useful dish for preparing in advance – summer or winter.