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Heston Blumenthal's ratatouille

Serves 4

Preparation time 30 mins to 1 hour

Cooking time 30 mins to 1 hour

3 medium aubergines
3 medium- large courgettes, as green as possible
1 head fennel
2 red peppers
3 tsp thyme leaves
10 basil leaves
10 coriander seeds
10 black olives, stoned and finely chopped
oil from the tomato fondue (see recipe below)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Top and tail the aubergines and courgettes. Take an aubergine and standing it upright, slice down each edge of the vegetable, removing the skin and about 3mm of flesh, no more. Do the same to all the aubergines and courgettes. (This recipe only uses the outside of the vegetables as described. Use the middles for other purposes such as puréeing, in a risotto or roasting).
2. Keep the slices of aubergine and courgette separate and trim the edges of each slice so that you are left with a rectangular shape. Cut each one into strips about 3mm thick, working with one strip at a time. Bunch together strips and cut across, leaving you with 3mm cubes. Set aside.
3. Cut the top and bottom off the fennel and remove the outer layer. As you remove the layers underneath, you will be left with v shaped pieces of fennel, which you will need to cut in half so that you are left with two slightly curved pieces of fennel. Trim and cut into the same size as the other vegetables.
4. Preheat the grill.
5. Top and tail the red peppers and remove the pith and seeds. Rub them with olive oil and place skin-side up on the grill tray. Grill until they go black all over to achieve a lovely charred flavour.
6. When blackened, put in a bowl and cover tightly with cling film; leave for five minutes. You will then be able to peel them easily under cold running water. Once peeled, dice the flesh as above.
7. Have ready a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl.
8. Heat a large frying pan and add 2mm of olive oil to pan. When hot, add the aubergines in one layer. Cook for three minutes then tip into sieve allowing it to drain. Season and add ½ tsp thyme leaves. When drained, tip into a bowl.
9. Using fresh olive oil, repeat the process with courgettes on a slightly lower heat. Cook for two minutes, drain, season and add thyme.
10. Finally cook the fennel for five to six minutes. You do not want to undercook the fennel, as its crunchiness will dominate the dish. Drain as before.
11. To finish the dish, mix together all the vegetables with the tomato fondue and the olives.
12. Finely slice the basil and add to the vegetables along with the rest of the thyme and coriander seeds.
13. Finally, mix in a little tomato fondue oil and the oil from the fried vegetables to your taste, season and serve. If you want to eat this hot, reheat in a moderate oven for five minutes.