Lamb Steaks with Rich Ratatouille

This is a cracking, simple recipe. If you’ve never made ratatouille, you really need to give it a go, because it covers all the bases – it’s delicious, and it’s full of vegetables, which also means it’s pretty cheap to make. The combination of rich, slightly spicy tomatoes, sweet peppers, buttery courgettes and smoky aubergines is amazingly moreish. It seems that pretty much everyone has a different recipe for it, so once you’ve had a go, feel free to tweak it until it’s just right for you.

Ingredients for the ratatouille:
One red pepper
One courgette
One aubergine
Two sticks of celery
One onion
Two cloves of garlic
Two tins of chopped tomatoes
Sweet chilli sauce, to taste
Ground coriander, to taste
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

For the lamb steaks:
Two lamb steaks
Salt and pepper
Garlic bread, to serve

Serves 2, with some ratatouille left over for the next day (it’s great with melted cheese on top).

Start by making your ratatouille. It’s best if you leave it to simmer for half an hour or so once you’ve put it all together, so allow a bit of time for this if you can. Dice the onion, celery and garlic finely, and get them sizzling gently in a splash of olive oil. Add half a teaspoon or so of ground coriander (of course, if you have some of the fresh stuff lying around, feel free to use that. I love growing herbs but for some reason my coriander always dies, so I’ve taken to going the lazy route and using ground stuff, which still works pretty well for things like this). Chop the red pepper and add after about five minutes. Leave the mixture frying slowly while you slice up the aubergine and courgette, but don’t add these straightaway – instead, brown them lightly in a frying pan with a bit more olive oil. While they’re getting started, add the chopped tomatoes to the pepper and onion mixture (I’ve put two tins as a maximum, but you might not need all of it, it really depends on how you want your ratatouille – personally I like mine with less tomatoes so that it’s chunky and less like a sauce), then season and add a good dollop of sweet chilli sauce. Finally, stir in the courgette and aubergine. Let it all simmer for five minutes or so, and then taste it to check if it needs anything else. There’s a chance it might be a little bitter at this stage (from the smoky flavour of the aubergine) so add a pinch of sugar if you think so. Leave your ratatouille to bubble on a low heat while you prepare the lamb steaks.

Getting the lamb ready is really simple. Sprinkle the topmost side with ground nutmeg, paprika, salt and pepper, and fresh thyme if you can get it (or ground thyme if you can’t). Wash your hands well and then rub the herbs and spices into the meat with your fingers. Flip the steaks over and repeat on the other side, and then leave the steaks until about five minutes before you want to eat. In the meantime, get your garlic bread in the oven if you’re having some.

When you’re ready to do the lamb, put a very small drizzle of oil in a griddle pan and make sure it’s hot before you pop the lamb steaks in. Turn them over every sixty seconds or so until they’re cooked to your liking. Serve with a generous dollop of warm ratatouille, a few slices of garlic bread and a glass of red wine.