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Big Red Love

In my house there’s a big red pot and that big red pot gets more big red love than anything else in the kitchen.

Big Red Pot

Okay, maybe not more. The wok and the enormous mixing bowl probably are equal contenders. But I love that dern pot. Originally bought for the purposes of making no-knead bread (you heat a big, cast-iron core like this baby in the oven for a while before the bread dough is ready, then sling the dough in and the lid keeps the steam in and you end up with a beautiful crispy crust) (note to self: cook that bread ASAP), there is very little this pot doesn’t do now. Couscous, pasta, soup, rice, curries: it does it all. Stovetop, barbecue, oven, anywhere good times are had. Lately it’s been getting a lot of exercise serving my other big red love at the moment:


Ratatouille. Through an odd set of circumstances we needn’t go into right now (although it involved a gnome, some compromising photos and me being in the right place at the right time), I ended up with an abundance of zucchini and eggplants. When life gives you lemons, you make preserved lemons. When life gives you shitloads of the nightshade family, you make ratatouille. My ratatouille recipe is beautifully simple: roughly chop eggplants, zucchini, capsicum and onions and tumble into your big red pot. Add a cup or so of pitted olives if you have them. Then add two tins of tomatoes, and a generous mix of the herbs and spices that fire your big red love. If you’re me, it’s paprika, cumin seeds, white pepper, salt and more paprika; then you go out and snip some thyme, basil, parsley and marjoram from the garden. Quantities are a little vague: chop up enough to stop said herbs going to seed. Mix well, then add more spices and herbs because you’ve just realised how much ratatouille you’ve made. Seriously, one eggplant, one zucchini, one onion and one capsicum doesn’t seem like much until you get chopping, then it pulls some weird loaves-and-fishes shit and BAM you’ve got a big red pot of big red everything.

Mix well — throw in an empty-tomato-tin’s worth of water for good measure — and put the big red lid on your big red pot. Bake it for about two hours or until you have to go do something outside the house and switch the oven on. Once hot, my big red pot will keep on baking for quite some time after the oven is switched off.

I’ve been making truckloads of this stuff. It freezes really well, so an awkward abundance is magically transformed into stockpiled provisions. We’ve used it:

  • puréed as a pizza sauce;
  • tossed with pasta;
  • mixed with black beans and chillies for burrito frijoles;
  • tossed into shakshouka;
  • as a cold salsa on wraps;
  • served with crusty bread as a fantastic meal all by itself.

Seriously, about twenty minutes’ chopping, then ignore it in the oven for two hours, and you’ve got meals for over a week. Awesome. Tonight I came home and M had taken it to the next level of big red glory:

Oh my big red stars...

Layer ratatouille with lasagna sheets and cheesy sauce, then top with cheese and bake for an hour and you have a lush hot lasagna fit for a bethini.

A brief snap before the elusive lasagna disappears into its natural habitat...

Holy crap, so awesome. You wouldn’t believe how lush, flavoursome, cheesy and delicious this was. The noodles cooked to a firm perfection, the provolone savoury and stringy, the ratatouille thick and rich. Big red love.

Oh, while we’re talking about big red loves:

Red red red red red red red

Recycled Red Redux rolls readily on! Nearly up to the waist already.

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