Please Pass the Recipe

sharing recipes from one generation to the next

MEDITTERANEAN VEGETABLE STEW – Making the most of our autumn vegetables

I owe a debt of pleasure to an unknown night shift cook from the time in the 1970s when I was a student nurse.  It was only ever at midnight dinners that “Gypsy Stew” appeared on the menu in the staff cafeteria, an unctuous combinations of then unfamiliar vegetables, that I now know as ratatouille. It wasn’t particularly popular so usually the leftovers reappeared reinvented the next night with eggs baked into the surface.

I make ratatouille frequently and I serve the leftovers for lunch with a poached egg on top. Sometimes I add black olives, balsamic vinegar and finish with fresh basil leaves. Then I call it “Caponata.”  Whichever way I make this dish, whether we eat it hot or cold, whether we have it beside polenta, or Gnocchi alla Romana, accompanying fennel spiced sausages, char grilled steak or fish, it is always delicious. It was never a favourite with our kids, but the grownups have always enjoyed it.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion diced

1 large eggplant or 8 finger eggplants, cut into 2cm cubes

1 large red capsicum or 3 sweet red chillis, cut into 2cm squares

500g ripe tomatoes roughly chopped

4 cloves garlic, finelychopped

4 small zucchinis cut into 2cm slices

Salt pepper and sugar to taste

Dice the onion. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan that has a well fitting lid,( I use a cast iron Le Crueset casserole dish) then sauté the onion covered for about 10 minutes. Add the eggplant and peppers to the pan and cook over a low heat, covered for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. When the eggplant has browned and is almost cooked, add the tomatoes and garlic and cook until the tomatoes are just collapsed. Add the zucchini and cook for another couple of minutes. Remove from the heat, season to taste then serve.

Variation:  for Caponata

12 black olives, pitted and quartered ( I choose kalamata olives)

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 cup whole fresh basil leaves, washed and dried

Prepare as above, add the olives and vinegar when you add the tomatoes, then stir the basil leaves into the stew after you have removed it from the heat.


About ladyredspecs

I live in sunny Brisbane, Australia. My love of good food drives me as a cook, a reader, a traveller, an artist and but mostly as an eater. I cooked professionally for many years but have no formal training. Simply guided by a love of eating good food, respect for ingredients and an abhorrence of artificial additives, I cook instinctively applying the technical know how acquired by experience. I hope you enjoy what I share Sandra AKA ladyredspecs

2 comments on “MEDITTERANEAN VEGETABLE STEW – Making the most of our autumn vegetables

  1. Pingback: North African Eggs « Please Pass the Recipe

  2. Pingback: Up to my neck in tomatoes « Please Pass the Recipe

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This entry was posted on April 2, 2012 by in Food and tagged , , , , , , .
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