I keep prattling on about how much I love summer fruit – berries, mangoes, peaches and cherries, but I also love summer vegetables. Eggplant is one of my favourite things, and I love zucchini in almost any form. Lets not forget gorgeous ripe tomatoes, which need nothing more than a drizzling of olive oil and some cracked black pepper on your favourite sourdough to be the perfect summertime lunch. What better way to showcase summer vegetables than ratatouille, an honest French dish that lets the flavours do the talking. I’ve already made this twice so far this summer and I couldn’t wait any longer to tell you about it!
I found the recipe in an old Gourmet Traveller Annual Cookbook from 2006. I have simplified it somewhat to really make the flavours shine. The ratatouille is served with some crispy potatoes that are sliced thinly, par-cooked until tender, then pan-fried with butter and oil until crisp. They’re then tossed with parsley and, if you like, a little red wine vinegar. Sitting on top is a crispy-skin chicken breast. Make sure you buy chicken with the skin on – parsley butter is pushed underneath the skin, and then the chicken is pan-fried skin side down before being baked, covered with foil for 20-30 minutes until juicy and perfectly cooked.
Everyone who has tried this dish has absolutely loved it, even the boyfriend’s parents! The components compliment each other so well. There is a little bit of prep work involved, but the ratatouille can be made in advance and heated gently just before you’re ready to serve it. It’s a fantastic way to showcase your favourite summer vegetables in an honest and simple, restaurant-quality dish, the best kind to have in your repertoire as far as I’m concerned. I know I’ll be making this again!
Crispy Chicken Breast with Ratatouille and Crispy Potatoes
Recipe adapted from Gourmet Traveller
• 4 chicken breasts, skin on
• ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
• 40g butter, softened
• Sea salt & black pepper
• ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil
• 1 small eggplant, cut into 1cm dice
• 1 green zucchini, cut into 1cm dice
• 1 large red capsicum, cut into 1cm dice
• 1 small onion, coarsely chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
• 400g can chopped tomatoes
• 50g tomato paste
• 1 tsp granulated sugar
• Sea salt & black pepper, to taste
• 5 medium potatoes, boiled, peeled into 1cm thick rounds
• 20g butter
• ½ cup olive oil
• 1 small onion, finely chopped
• ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
• 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar, optional
1. For ratatouille, heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat, add eggplant and cook until tender, then transfer to a bowl. Add zucchini to frypan and cook until tender, and then add to eggplant. Cook capsicum until tender and then add to vegetables in the bowl. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook onion and garlic for 5 minutes or until tender. Add tomatoes, tomato paste and sugar and simmer for 10 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add the vegetables and season to taste. Keep warm.
2. For potatoes, heat butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add potatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. Add onion and sauté for another 5 minutes or until onion is tender, then add parsley and season to taste. Remove from heat and toss through red wine vinegar, if desired.
3. To make crispy skin chicken, combine parsley and softened butter in a bowl. Using your fingers, separate skin from chicken breast to form a pocket and spread butter under the skin. Heat a frying pan to medium heat and cook chicken, skin side down for 3 minutes or until golden, then turn over and cook for another 3 minutes. Preheat the oven to 200°C (390°F). Transfer chicken to a baking pan, cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.
4. Serve chicken with ratatouille and potatoes.