Ratatouille bake with feta cheese

by Jeanne on October 2, 2008

in Recipes - vegetarian, Vegetable side dishes

IMG_4280 - Tomatoes edited WebYou know how they say the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step?  Well, I'm more of a subscriber to the theory that the journey of a thousand miles begins with a wonky fan belt, half a tank of fuel and a cell phone battery that's about to die.

"They" also say that necessity is the mother of invention.  Well, I say that necessity pales into insignificance next to the prospect of going away for two weeks and having to find creative ways of cookign for one that will run down your stocks of perishables to nil or nearly nil.  Then I'll show you invention!

Yes, it's true:  Mr Cooksister himself Nick is already in Chicago on business, hence the cooking for one.  And this Saturday I will be joining him for two blissful weeks. 

No work!  An apartment with a lake view!  A new city to explore!  New friends to meet!  Old friends to visit!  Life is sweet.

But before we get to the boarding gates, I need to get rid of the bits and pieces lurking in my fridge.  Anything that can't be frozen had better get eaten, so Monday night I killed two birds with one stone and made Nigel Slater's wonderful sauteed chicken with fennel, cream and spices, polishing off a bulb of fennel and the last of the double cream in one fell swoop.  Result! I had bought a block of Sainsbury's organic Greek feta to sprinkle on salads all of this week, but the block I got was way too tangy for my liking. (And while we're on the topic, what's up with this country's supermarkets only selling bloody vac packed feta?  In South Africa the chiller cabinets are lined with tubs of feta in brine that lasts much longer in the fridge… but not here.  What gives?).  So after one salad on Monday it got shunted to the back of the fridge in disgrace.

But come Tuesday, that little voice of my no-food-wastage conscience was saying "find a way to use the feta cheese, and find it fast!".  A quick survey of the fridge revealed a large and solitary courgette needing eating, some mushrooms, and some absolutely perfectly ripe cherry tomatoes on the vine (as pictured!).  Hmmmmm, let's think…  what could that become?  Ratatouille, of course!  Well, the version I grew up on, anyway.  Aubergine was not big in our house and mushrooms were usually a perfectly good substitute – any ratatouille purists out there, feel free to keep your outrage to yourselves ;-)

But one nagging doubt remained – what the hell was I going to do with the too-tangy feta?  And then it came to me:  make the ratatouille, then top it with feta and breadcrumbs and pop it under the grill, killing many birds with one stone.

And would you know, the feta that was too overwhelming on a salad took on a whole new dimension once it was warm and melty.  It had something of the shapness of a mature cheddar and it was absolutely perfect with the vegetables, and the breadcrumbs gave a nice crispiness.  This makes a great vegetable side dish, but would work equally well as a vegetarian main course or light lunch with some crusty bread and a salad.

So it seems that when I need a burst of culinary inspiration, all I need to do is book a long holiday, fill my fridge with random food and wait for nature to take its course :)

RATATOUILLE BAKE WITH FETA CHEESE (serves 2)

IngredientsIMG_4287 - RatatouilleTitleWeb

2 large ripe tomatoes (or 8-10 cherry tomatoes), chopped
1 large courgette, sliced into half moons
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
4 big closed cup mushrooms, sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
a large chunk of feta cheese, crumbled
a handful of breadcrumbs

Method:

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in an oven-proof skillet.  Add the garlic and onions and fry for a few minutes until the onions start to soften.

Add the courgette and sautee until it starts to soften, then add the mushrooms and chopped tomatoes.  Allow to simmer until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. 

Pre-heat the grill.  Season with the oregano, thyme, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle the crumbled feta over the top, followed by the breadcrumbs.  Pop the skillet under the grill until the cheese is melting and the breadcrumbs are golden.

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{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

KimdaCook October 2, 2008 at 8:33 am

Wow this sounds amazing, I absolutely love RATATOUILLE, and this bake with feta sounds decadent.

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Jan October 2, 2008 at 1:41 pm

Oooh – That looks really yummy! I’m loving the feta topping!
PS; My chilli plant has LOADS of flowers now!!

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Bellini Valli October 2, 2008 at 2:11 pm

I am loving this version of ratatouille!!!

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Patricia Scarpin October 2, 2008 at 5:53 pm

Oh, I wish I’d had this for lunch.

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Boots in the Oven October 2, 2008 at 9:47 pm

Feta in the oven with yummy vegetables? Sounds great! Have a wonderful time in my hometown!

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grace October 2, 2008 at 10:48 pm

i’m on the no-waste team too–i go to ridiculous lengths to use things up. this bake is amazing and appears to be something i’d eat after a long, hard day. very nice.

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peter October 2, 2008 at 11:16 pm

This looks amazing and the feta doesn’t hurt either! Would you believe the bread crumb topping is what does it for me? Yep.

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Darius T. Williams October 2, 2008 at 11:53 pm

Sooo – can you please sign me up? This looks great and I love feta cheese!
-DTW
http://www.everydaycookin.blogspot.com

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Johanna October 3, 2008 at 4:11 am

This looks like a great way to use up feta cheese and to pep up a ratatouille – and I live with someone with a dislike of aubergine so your mix would suit us well! Enjoy your break

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Rosemary October 3, 2008 at 10:42 am

That’s exactly what I love about ratatouille – you don’t have to buy anything to make it – you just use whatever is “lurking” in the fridge.

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courtney October 3, 2008 at 7:57 pm

Have a safeflight and bundle up. Its chilly here.

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Christina October 6, 2008 at 12:26 pm

Mmm, I love ratatouille (especially with eggplant, sorry!) but the feta on top just gilds the lily.
Have a fantastic holiday! Looking forward to hearing about it.

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nina October 6, 2008 at 8:34 pm

“n boer maak ‘n plan…….that feta had no chance!!!!
I spent a glorious week in PE visiting old friends and then we went out to Sundays for a couple of days!!! In the 5 years since I ‘ve been there the developments are shocking!!!!
Enjoy your holiday!!!!!

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dawnielle October 7, 2008 at 10:13 pm

Jeanne – that ratatouille looks amazing…have had no time to cook, but it’s getting cooler, so can’t wait to add this one! Have an amazing time in Chicago – my husband’s stomping grounds! Make sure to have an Old Style beer in can at Wrigley. Now that’s Americana! Please also tell your readers how many holidays you get a year! Crazy lucky girl!

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neil October 8, 2008 at 2:08 am

That was a clever way to use up the too tangy fetta! Looks gorgeous. Enjoy your break.

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Coffee & Vanilla October 8, 2008 at 11:22 am

I adore this ratatouille, and I think I will try to make my own… just recently have seen somewhere one with cornmeal crust, now your version with feta… I think I will combine those two! :)
I owe you explanation with those figs in a fish stew, hehe ;)
Green bananas are called “figs” in some parts of the Caribbean, I made a note about it in my post after your comment :)
Margot

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Coffee & Vanilla October 8, 2008 at 11:22 am

I adore this ratatouille, and I think I will try to make my own… just recently have seen somewhere one with cornmeal crust, now your version with feta… I think I will combine those two! :)
I owe you explanation with those figs in a fish stew, hehe ;)
Green bananas are called “figs” in some parts of the Caribbean, I made a note about it in my post after your comment :)
Margot

Reply

Coffee & Vanilla October 8, 2008 at 11:22 am

I adore this ratatouille, and I think I will try to make my own… just recently have seen somewhere one with cornmeal crust, now your version with feta… I think I will combine those two! :)
I owe you explanation with those figs in a fish stew, hehe ;)
Green bananas are called “figs” in some parts of the Caribbean, I made a note about it in my post after your comment :)
Margot

Reply

Annemarie October 8, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Hope you get to finish this all before your off – feta-tatouille for lunches? Have a fabulous time in Chicago!

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Susan from Food Blogga October 10, 2008 at 6:12 pm

I love, love, love this dish, Jeanne! It’s such a great mid-week meal since it’s easy and satisfying. Thanks!

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Angela October 26, 2008 at 1:05 pm

Oooh, how did I miss this? The ratatouille looks fabulous–I love the crunchy topping.

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Michelle October 28, 2008 at 12:16 pm

Love love love ratatouille. This is a definite must-try.

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Andra November 4, 2008 at 5:50 pm

My kitchen smells so good right now. I’ve just transferred the veggies to a casserole dish, I’m about to top it with the crumbs and cheese. Can’t wait for dinner tonight! Thanks for sharing this one.

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Sarah November 11, 2008 at 3:53 am

Andra raved about how awesome this dish was, so I decided to make it. I just pulled this dish from my oven. It’s so delicious! The only addition I made was I added a bell pepper, and my tomatoes didn’t have a lot of liquid to them, so I added some V8 I found in the fridge. Sounds gross but it turned out alright! The feta gives this dish the right touch.

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Elra November 11, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Sounds delicious, Jeanne!
We are lucky to live here in CA, even in winter time we still can buy summer vegetable. So there is no excuse for not try to make this unusual Ratatouille with feta cheese.
Cheers,
Elra

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James April 2, 2009 at 11:55 am

Wow !!this looks delicious. I am so excited to try. Thanks for recipe.

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sarah April 7, 2009 at 8:35 pm

This looks fabulous but what is a “courgette”?

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