A bit of a mouthful, but a totally delicious one.
Re-create a restaurant meal.
Today I am recreating a dish that I have only eaten once from a cafe that I have only been to once, however my experience there was so memorable that I have talked about it several times since. The cafe is Mixed Business in Clifton Hill, and I went with a group of about 15-20 people from work for a group brunch on a weekday. The service was outstanding and friendly, and I was just awed by the fact that they were able to bring out all of our dishes at the same time with so many of us there. Not only that, they were freaking delicious.
I had avocado on toast with a side of slow roasted ratatouille beans. The beans were topped with toasted crumbs and a drizzle of basil oil. Outrageously good. Unfortunately I did not take a photo of the dish on the day, nor do I have a photographic memory, so I was trying to recreate the idea in my head here. It worked out great, and this will definitely be a rotation in our weekend breakfasts.
Note, I started out using fresh tomatoes and then added crushed tomatoes to make the beans more saucy. I’m sure if you wanted to use a whole can of crushed tomatoes and omit the fresh ones it will be much the same.
Slow Roasted Ratatouille Beans with Toasted Crumbs and Basil Oil
(serves 3-4 as a side)
1 medium eggplant, diced (roughly 3 cups) skin on or off
1 red capsicum, diced
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp oil
1½ cups cooked butter beans
3 Tbsp tomato paste + ¼ cup water
200g crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of stale bread, crusts removed
1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
½ cup olive oil
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 220C. Place onion, garlic, eggplant, capsicum, chopped tomatoes in a large baking dish and toss with olive oil. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. Remove from heat.
In a small bowl, whisk together tomato paste and water. Add tomato paste mix, crushed tomatoes, fresh basil and salt and pepper and stir to combine. Return to oven for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check that the eggplant is tender, and the sauce is nice and thick. If it needs a little longer, you may want to add a little more liquid to keep it at the right consistency.
While the beans are cooking, prepare the basil oil. Bring a pot of water to the boil and blanch the basil leaves for no more than a minute. Transfer to icy water to cool. Blend basil, oil and salt as best as possible, then strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth.
To prepare the breadcrumbs, tear up the pieces of bread and place in a food processor. Process until crumbs are formed. Spread crumbs out onto a baking tray and pop in the oven, bake until crumbs are golden – 5 – 10 minutes. Make sure you stir them regularly to ensure they don’t burn. Remove from oven and put aside.
To prepare, serve up some beans, sprinkle on some breadcrumbs and top with a drizzle of basil oil. Serve with a side of avo on toast, of course.