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July: Ratatouille

The long sunny days of summer are finally here. July will hopefully see an abundance of courgettes, tomatoes and aubergines. This Ratatouille recipe has been suggested by a couple of people in the community who are following along with this project. Ratatouille traditionally comes from the South of France. It is essentially a bright, chunky summer vegetable stew fragrant with garlic. The recipe below is just a guide. You’ll see in my photos I only had frozen peppers and not fresh, but it worked out well and saved a few minutes of chopping!

Serves 4 Preparation time 15 minutes Cooking time 30-40 minutes

Ingredients
• 2 medium courgettes, chopped into bite sized cubes
• 1 medium aubergine, chopped into bite sized cubes
• 6 tomatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
• 1 red onion, chopped
• 1 pepper, sliced (or a large handful of frozen sliced peppers)
• 3-4 cloves of crushed garlic
• 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
• A small bunch of fresh basil, chopped

• 1 tablespoon of cooking oil
• 1 teaspoon of green pesto– optional

Instructions
1. Using a large shallow pan heat the oil over a medium heat and beginning adding the courgettes. Cook them for 3-5 minutes until they are slightly golden and then tip them into a large bowl. Keep to one side.
2. Use the same pan to cook the aubergines, again for a few minutes and then add to the bowl. Cooking the vegetable in batches stops the pan from becoming overcrowded. Follow the same process for the peppers. Adding the cooked veg to the bowl as you go.
3. Using the same pan, adding some more oil if needed add the final ingredients, the onions, fresh tomatoes and garlic. Cook for 3-5 minutes. Add the cooked courgettes, aubergine and peppers back to the pan.
4. Pour over the tin of tomatoes and the fresh basil. You may like to add a teaspoon of green pesto at this stage too. Give it all a good stir.
5. Reduce the heat and leave it to cook for about 10 minutes. Season to your taste.
6. Serve with fresh bread, or as I have done with couscous. Make the couscous up during the last 10 minutes of cooking time. Couscous is easy to cook. Add the dry couscous to a bowl and cover with boiling water and pop a plate over the top, just leave it to absorb the water and fluff up with fork.

What’s in season in July

With summer fully underway you’ll find gardens and growing spaces fully of summer crops. If you don’t have space to grow your own here is what is in season and should be on sale at the local markets this month. Look out for the following vegetables: Beetroot, Cabbage, Carrots, Courgettes and summer squash, Cucumbers, Fennel, French beans, Lettuce and other salad leaves, New potatoes, Peas and mangetout, Radish, Runner beans, Tomatoes, Spinach, Spring onions and Shallots.

Fruits for harvesting or buying this month: Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Currants, Gooseberries, Loganberries, Raspberries and Tayberries.