For the tomato sauce:
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed or grated
1 twig of fresh rosemary, chopped
1 twig fresh thyme, chopped
5 ripe plum tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
A large handful of fresh basil, torn
1 teaspoon tomato puree
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 glass white wine
1 glass water (more may be needed)

For the Tumbet:
1 medium aubergine, thickly sliced
1 courgette, thickly sliced
1 large red pepper, chopped into large chunks
4 medium potatoes, thickly sliced
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Fresh rosemary

Words by:
Dominic Franks
Featured in:
November 2023

Dominic Franks shares one of his favourite Balearic Islands recipes – a popular traditional vegetable dish found on many menus in Mallorca.

We’re fortunate enough to have spent most of September and October on the beautiful Balearic Island of Mallorca where, as you can imagine, we’ve been feasting on the stunning local cuisine.

Tumbet (pronounced toombet) is a traditional vegetable dish, consisting of layers of sliced potatoes, aubergines and red peppers that have been fried in olive oil and served in a rich tomato sauce. You will find it on the menus at many local restaurants on the island but it is often overlooked, which I think is a crying shame because it tastes divine and is a true flavour of Mallorca. It’s often served with a pan-fried local fish or roast goat or lamb which is very popular, but it also makes a wonderful vegetarian dish, served simply with some rustic bread.

Very similar in style to ratatouille, it is essentially a layered vegetable stew using the best of the seasonal produce. I’ve added courgettes (because we had a glut) and I’ve also topped it with a local cheese.

I’ve also roasted the veg rather than fried them as I didn’t want to use so much oil but I think it tastes just as delicious. It’s a wonderfully warming dish, perfect for bringing a little colour and flavour of the Mediterranean into your wintery Lincolnshire home.

• In a large pan, sauté the onions in a little olive oil on a medium heat until they begin to soften (roughly 3 mins), then add the garlic, rosemary and thyme and sauté for 3 more mins. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Let the whole pan heat through and bubble away quite vigorously for about 5 mins, then turn down the heat to the very lowest and allow it to gently bubble for at least an hour, if not two. You may need to add some more water now and again to stop it drying out, but it should all reduce down nicely.

• After two hours, let it cool down completely and then blend with a stick blender to a rough pulp. Set aside.

• The sauce can be made a few days in advance and kept in an air-tight container in the fridge. (In fact, I’d advise this as it always tastes better after a few days.)

• Add all the veg to one or two large roasting trays, drizzle with olive oil and season well with herbs, garlic cloves and salt and pepper.

• Roast on 170°C for about an hour or until the veg is soft and beginning to colour but not too much. Turn the oven off and allow to cool completely in the oven.

• To build the final dish you will need a large oven-proof dish. A round earthenware dish, known as a cazuela, is traditional. Pre-heat your oven to 170°C.

• Place a ladleful of tomato sauce into the bottom of the pot, then add a layer of veg followed by a layer of sauce, and then veg. Keep going until it’s all used up. Traditionally you would add each vegetable in its own layer, but feel free to be creative.

• Top with grated cheese and bake for 1 hour until it’s all gloriously golden and bubbling. I like to serve it lukewarm rather than boiling hot, as I feel the flavours can be tasted better.
Eat and of course, enjoy!

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