ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Lockdown Lunches #1: Ratatouille

These really are the strangest of times, aren't they?

What have you been up to lately? Been anywhere interesting? I'm guessing not. We're in #LOCKDOWN and it sucks.

The highlight of my day now is updating my COVID-19 spreadsheet, deciding I can't be bothered to Zoom various people, and putting off learning to play the trumpet for a further day.


In other news...

...I've discovered that our toaster has two independently-operative crumb trays! Fully-featured!

Also in the kitchen was a bottle of Encona Sweet Chilli sauce that expired in 2012. That means that not only have we failed to throw it away but somebody actually packed it up, transported it 20 miles and subsequently unpacked it when we moved house in 2016!

Old Sauce
But for various reasons, things aren't easy right now. Nor will the be for most people.

This Coronavirus thing is the sort of 'Black Swan' event that we always think would change life as we know it beyond all recognition, but assume will never actually happen. Well, it did. 

I have plenty of strong, serious and considered views on the virus and not being able to go to the pub and noses being cut off to spite faces, but I'll keep them for another day as they'll probably piss people off.
So let's just have a teensy little recipe instead, shall we?

We had a nice roasted leg of lamb over the weekend, and
when thinking about what veg to cook with it I realised that I'd never actually cooked a Ratatouille before. So I did.

Turns out it goes rather nicely with a nice crusted lamb, a few baby garlic roast potatoes and a big mushroom.

A few tweaks to the recipe later - it really didn't need long-expired sweet chilli sauce or toaster crumbs added to it! - here it is:


Ingredients - serves 2 as a main course or 4-6 as a side dish

Courgette, 2, sliced and quartered
Onion, 1 large or 2 small, finely chopped
Tomatoes, 2-3, finely chopped
Garlic, 3-4 cloves, smushed

French Mustard, a big tablespoonful

Olive oil
Not too ratty
Worcestershire Sauce
Herbes de Provence
Celery salt
Black pepper
Tabasco (optional)
Grated cheese (optional)


This tasty dish can be prepared easily in a single saute pan and it's actually quite difficult to burn or overcook courgette. Other than the French mustard which is vital to the overall flavour, the seasonings are pretty flexible, and it freezes well for later use.

Sweat the onion and garlic in a little oil for a few minutes until soft, then add your courgette along with the requisite herbs and spices.

The four seasons?
After a few minutes chuck in the tomatoes, the mustard and a glug of Worcestershire's finest and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring fairly vigorously.

Once the tomato has softened, turned the heat right down low, finish with a little butter for richness and leave it to simmer for half an hour or so, depending on how al dente you like your courgette.

If you're serving it as a main dish, you can grate some cheese on top, maybe Gruyere, and melt it under the grill before whacking some garlic bread on the side.

Otherwise, just keep it warm and plonk it on the plate with whatever you feel like having that evening.

Enjoy your lockdown lunch!

1 comment:

Comments are always welcomed and encouraged, especially interesting, thought-provoking contributions and outrageous suggestions.