I'm easily amused. Saying ratatouille makes me smile. It's right up there on the list of silly food names along with Boy Bait, Bubble and Squeak and Toad in the Hole. Sometimes I have the sense of humour of an 11 year old boy.
*NOTE: I made my own shortcrust pastry for these delicious little pies, but I totally understand if you use store-bought.
slightly adapted from Paul Allam and David McGuinness's Bourke Street Bakery
For the Pies:
1 large eggplant, cut into 2cm dice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
8 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 medium brown onion, finely chopped
4 large red capsicums, seeds removed and roughly chopped
3 medium tomatoes, chopped
200g green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced and blanched until tender
300g zucchini, trimmed and cut into 1cm dice, quickly sauteed in a little olive oil until tender
275g jar preserved artichoke heart quarters, drained
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon fine salt (I used Pink Himalaya)
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
1/4 cup chopped finely chopped basil leaves
1/4 cup chopped finely chopped parsley leaves
1 quantity of savoury shortcrust pastry (recipe below) or 4 sheets of store-bought *See note
2 sheets of ready-rolled puff pastry
Egg wash: 1 egg whisked with 1 teaspoon water
Nigella seeds for sprinkling
For the Pastry:
300g cold unsalted butter, cut into 2cm cubes
600g plain flour (I use "00" flour)
1 teaspoon fine salt (I use Pink Himalaya)
3 teaspoons white vinegar,
2/3 cup chilled water
Make the Pastry:
Put the flour and salt into a food processor and blitz briefly to mix. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles course breadcrumbs. Mix the vinegar with the cold water and gradually add enough of it to the processor to form a ball of dough around the blade. Do not over process. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and bring it together into a ball. Press it out to a flat disc, cover with cling film and leave it to rest in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Make the Pie Filling:
Preheat the oven to 220C.
Put the eggplant on a baking tray in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and set aside for 10 minutes. Rinse and pat dry. Lay them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, drizzle with half of the olive oil and bake for 15 - 20 minutes until tender. Set side.
Put the onion, garlic, capsicums and tomatoes into a food processor and blitz briefly to finely chop.
Heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the tomato mixture to the pan along with the water, salt and chilli flakes. Bring to the boil. then reduce to simmer and cook for 45 minutes - 1 hours. This is the base of the filling and it needs to be thick to bind the other vegetables. Once thick, put it in a blender and whiz until smooth. Put it back in the pan and add the baked eggplant, blanched beans, sauteed zucchini, artichoke harts, Parmesan cheese and herbs. Stir to combine and check seasoning. Remove from the heat and allow to cool completely before filling the pastry cases.
Assemble and Bake the Pies:
Preheat the oven to 200C and slide a baking sheet in the oven to heat up. Butter 6 x 12.5cm pie tins. Set aside.
If using homemade shortcrust, roll it out to 3mm. Cut 6 x 15cm diameter circles out of the dough and line the pie dishes with them. Spoon the filling into them, piling it up to just above the rim. Brush the edges of the pastry with egg wash.
Cut 6 x 13cm rounds out of the puff pastry for the lids. Lay the lids over the filling and press firm around the edges to seal. Trim excess pastry and crimp the edges. Brush the tops with egg wash, make a small hole in the centre of the lids to allow steam to escape and sprinkle with nigella seeds.
Reduce the oven temperature to 180C and put the pie dishes on the hot baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the filling is hot and the pastry is golden brown. Leave the pies to rest for 5 - 10 minutes before serving.