Monday, February 20, 2017

Tweaking a French classic. . . . . . . . .

Today my kitchen was bursting with the fragrance of fresh vegetables, garlic, thyme
 and the best olive oil. Sizzling in two baking dishes in the oven, and bubbling
 from a skillet on the burner, music was created! Who knew a plump eggplant,
 two zucchini, two onions, and an orange and yellow pepper could taste so good
when blanketed with your own homemade thick tomato sauce, it's so easy.

 If you've spent time in the South of France, especially in picturesque Provençe, 
surrounded by lavender and sunflower fields, when dining in either a restaurant
 or a French home, you most likely have been served ratatouille
Also known as ratatouille niçoise, this colorful unctuous vegetable
 stew which originated in the city of Nice, is a French classic and so easy to
 make at home.

Purists may still choose the traditional French way of preparation where each
 vegetable is cooked separately atop the stove, a longer more messy process,
 then combined and cooked together slowly until they reach a creamy consistency.
 I used to make mine that way. The new way is much easier and to me tastes even
 more fantastic. . . . . .actually this version we will have for supper tonight is really
 the best I've ever tasted, honestly!

The word ratatouille derives from the Occitan ratatolha and is related to the French
ratatouiller and tatouiller, expressive forms of the verb touiller meaning 'to stir up'. 
From the late 18th century, in French, it indicated a coarse stew, and the actual 
ratatouille recipe didn't appear in print until around 1930.

Always serve ratatouille warm or at room temperature.
If you have refrigerated leftovers remove from the fridge allowing at least
 half an hour prior to serving.

There are dozens of recipes available online for ratatouille or, if you have a
 collection of French or vegetable cookbooks, you are certain to find 
 one to try. I used the simplified recipe from my awesome British cookbook
VEG by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall of River Cottage in Dorset, not far from
 my English home. It was a gift from my granddaughter Jasmin who always
 knows what I love, or will grow to love. . . . and I'm definitely loving
this cookbook.

Off now to eat and enjoy.
Bon appetit.


  1. Oh my goodness but that looks delicious. I have a version that I love - one that has evolved with time and trial.
    I can just imagine how good your house must have smelled today!

  2. This is definitely serendipity, Mary. I was enjoying your post and gorgeous pictures of your ratatouille, and was hoping you'd share your recipe. Long story short, today my doctor recommended I try to avoid meat due to my cholesterol level. I thought of a cookbook I bought about a year ago and had yet to really explore. Yep, River Cottage Veg! It is sitting on my kitchen counter to peruse and choose some healthy recipes to make this week. I will definitely try your favorite!!

    Love to you and yours,


    1. You will love this cookbook Jane - get your healthy veggies this way!
      The recipe for the oven-roasted ratatouille is on page 362 - I did the first option making the easy sauce separately - it's soon delicious!
      Love to you all,
      Mary -

  3. I can almost smell it!
    We have relatives in Nice, and elsehwere in the Provence (in a village at the bottom of Mont Ventoux), so I know exactly what you mean when you are talking of fields of lavender and sunflowers... also rows and rows of apricot and cherry trees.

  4. You had me practically licking the screen! I freeze ratatouille and it is just as good the next time.

  5. Beautiful pictures Mary. It took me back to France. My French friend made her version for us while we were visiting them in the Loire Valley. I love that you roasted the vegies.

  6. Oh my that looks good. I had a French exchange student and I use to make this for her.

  7. Your ratatouille looks delicious, Mary. I have a recipe that I've used and adapted over the years. I love it for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, especially in the summer when all the vegetables are fresh off the farm. You have me longing for summer!

  8. Yum! I haven't made this dish since last year sometime. Thanks for the reminder - I need to make it again!

  9. Those looks so amazing. I'm so jealous -- happy for you but jealous that I can;t seem to make anything close to appetizing like that! the best I can do is through art and design! Ha. In fact, just last night, I was terribly excited to try out the spanking new (not cheap) wok we purchased at a kitchen store. I had been pondering getting one for ages but after seeing a salesman make it look so easy to cook with and ensuring me that I simply needed to turn up our lil ELECTRIC stove top to HIGH and jsut use PEantu Oil, I gave it a go. Chopping up oodles of veg, I excitedly tossed them onto the spitting cast iron top, only to have them IMMEDIATELY start smoking! the end result? A VERY nasty heap of charred carrots and broccoli which Alex assured me it was pretty good when thrown in and stirred into the decently cooked cabbage, bok choy, and red peppers (for me). LEt me tell you, it was NOT. Not by any means. In fact, it was certainly the most vile thing I've eatEN all this year. Truly. And to make matters worse, I somehow destroyed the pan. I can;t scrape off the black charred mess and, btw, can't get that taste memory of the charcoal bits and carrots. Ha. Oh dear me. Well, it was certainly memorable, let me tell you...and as evidenced by the lingering aroma for days too. I even ate it all -- not one to waste things. Good fibre and all that!

    So, you know, I need you to please come here AND show me the ropes!


I would enjoy reading your comment - thanks so much for stopping by.