The Art Of The Larder
Mike Lusmore

I am in the habit of calling this recipe potato ratatouille. Originating, some say, in Naples, is a bold interpretation of a classic French ratatouille. Potatoes give ballast to the vegetables and the vinegar works a treat, splashed over as the potatoes drain. Chilli ramps up flavour and, as ever, an exact olive oil measurement is a tricky thing, especially when cooking aubergines, which soak up olive oil like a sponge does water. Storecupboard, certainly, showcasing here the ever-reliable tinned tomatoes among others.


Quantity Ingredient
1 large red onion, finely chopped
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar, to taste
1 aubergine, cut into 3cm cubes
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes, or more to taste
1 red or yellow pepper, diced
1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes, drained of juiced, (keep the juice for another time)
freshly ground black pepper
40g olives, black or green, pitted and roughly chopped
a small bunch fresh marjoram, oregano, parsley or basil, leaves roughly chopped


  1. Fry the onion in 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over a medium heat for 8–10 minutes, until soft and translucent.
  2. Boil the potatoes in plenty of salted water until tender and cooked through, then drain. Add the vinegar to the hot potatoes.
  3. While the onions and potatoes are cooking, fry the aubergine in a frying pan in small batches in the remaining olive oil until softened and golden, about 5–7 minutes, adding more oil if required.
  4. Add the garlic, chilli flakes and pepper to the softened onion and cook for 3 minutes, until the pepper starts to soften. Stir every so often.
  5. Add the drained whole tomatoes, season with salt and pepper, then cook for 20 minutes to make a rich thick sauce.
  6. Add the cooked aubergine and vinegar-doused potatoes to the tomato pan. Stir and cook for 3–4 minutes for the flavours to combine.
  7. Remove from the heat and stir in the olives, together with a few drops of vinegar to sharpen the flavour. Taste and add more salt, pepper, chilli or vinegar if you think it needs it. Finally add the herbs and serve.
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