Ratatouille – one of those iconic but often overlooked French/Mediterranean dishes that when done well are super tasty, easy & nutritious. This particular version – vegan ratatouille with tempeh – gives a nutritional boost by adding tempeh. There’s also some extra chickpeas that suit the flavours & textures. I chose chickpeas as they are a common North African ingredient to give a little contrast.
The rest of the dish is pretty much standard, aubergine, courgette, pepper, onion. But using plenty of the correct herbs and spices for the region to really round out the sensory experience.
When making ratatouille, it’s important that the aubergine is properly cooked. Undercooked aubergine is spongy and unappealing but when fully cooked has a beautiful texture that yields to the palate as you “chew” it. The other veggies can be less well cooked, but to get the flavours to integrate, long slow cooking is essential. This is a dish that’s quick into the pan, but needs to be allowed to linger for that authentic Mediterranean feel.
Personally, I prefer to eat this with cous-cous – which is the North African staple grain. Rice is ok, but not as good, but I’ve also found that baked potato goes really well with it too. Hummus of course is a great side dish with it, and paired with a really well-made Greek salad is another option.
In France, ratatouille is regarded more as an accompaniment to other dishes, but when you add the tempeh, and chickpeas, it takes it to another level. Nutritionally speaking, when paired with a grain and some leafy veggies, it balances the nutritional needs of the average human perfectly! If you’re feeling super indulgent, you can have it with some of my wholemeal garlic bread!
Vegan ratatouille with tempeh
- 75 g cold pressed olive oil or as needed.
- 800 g Aubergine 2 medium large ones
- 500 g courgettes 3 medium ones
- 600 g different coloured bell peppers 3 medium large ones
- 600 g red onions 2 fairly large ones
- 30 g garlic around 8 cloves
- 65 g medium hot chillies around 3 large red ones
- 200 g plain tempeh optional - if not using double the chickpeas.
- 10 g fresh thyme around half a standard bag
- 25 g fresh basil a standard bag
- 750 g large vine tomatoes or plum tomatoes
- 400 g tinned chopped plum tomatoes
- 50 g tomato puree
- 1 heap tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- 2 teasp ground corriander
- 2 teasp ground cummin
- 1 teasp garlic powder optional
- 1 teasp onion powder optional
- 3 teasps turmeric
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- zest one lemon
- 30 g lemon juice half a lemon approx
- 1 teasp veg stock powder
- 1 whole umami stock cube - kallo brand - optional
- assemble and wash the veggies
- Chop the aubergine into medium sized chunks 2cm
- chop the courgettes into slighly smaller chunks 1 ½ cm
- chop the peppers into medium sized chunks - 2cm
- chop the vine tomatoes into roughly 2cm chunks - wedges then in half is the easiest way to achieve that result.
- If using then cube the tempeh and cook in the actifry or a small pan with a tablespoon of olive oil on a medium heat - 12 minutes in the actifry on 180°C
- add a few tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to the pan on a medium heat and when hot add the veggies.
- cook for around tem minutes until starting to go golden brown
- set these part cooked veggies aside in a large bowl.
- add the onoins to the pan, with some more oil, on the same low medium heat and add the sliced garlic soon after
- Add in the sprigs of thyme.
- cook the onions for around 15 minutes and then add the chopped raw tomatoes - mix and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- add the tinned tomatoes to the onions and vine tomatoes
- add all the spices, the part cooked veggies Stir well and turn the heat to very low. You may need to add a little water to stop it from sticking.
- around half time on the cooking add the chickpeas and tempeh if using
- add the basil leaves around ten minutes before the end.
- Cook with the lid on for around 45 minutes to one hour - it all depends how soft you like your veggies - I like them quite soft - especially the aubergines.
- it should like nicely integrated when finished