Provencal French cuisine
This Niçoise dish is much more than a vegetable soup. It can be prepared fairly quickly by cooking everything together at the same time, but that needs to be done in the correct sequence to not miss out the art and the flavour of the dish.
It's true that the recipe can legitimately vary (somewhat) according to tastes, but the variations should be based on experience. The volume is also very variable.
"Too much" doesn't apply to ratatouille. Cook it the first time, and eat it hot as the main course; then have it again later as a cold hors-d'oeuvre. In the summer time, it's great as a cold main-course dish. It keeps for several days in the refridgerator. Ratatouille is good served with couscous grain (semoule) or rice.
Cooking Pot - we use a large pressure cooker, without the pressure. Makes about 4.5 liters.
Recipe (12 servings makes about 4.5 litres)
1.6 kg tomato [tomate]
700 g eggplant (2) [aubergine]
500 g zucchini (2) [courgette]
700 g bell pepper (2-3) [poivron]
1 kg onion [oignon]
6 cloves garlic [ail]|
Herbes de Provence (basilic,thyme, parsley)
olive oil [huile d'olive]
salt, pepper [sel, poivre]
140 g tomato paste
This is the "old fashioned" method. We did it this way the first couple of times, just for the experience. It fills the kitchen surfaces with pots and pans, takes a bit longer, but doesn't really add to the flavor.
1. Cut the eggplant into rondelles; keep separate. Peel the zucchini, cut into rondelles, keep separate. Clean the bell pepper, cut into small strips, keep separate. Chop the onion, keep separate.
2. Peel, de-seed and drain the tomatoes (*)
3. Using four separate cooking pots, put some olive oil in the bottom; put in the eggplant, zucchini, pepper, and onion into their own pots; sprinkle some flour onto the eggplant and onto the zucchini. Put the four pots on to cook slowly. Each cooks for about 30 minutes, but test and cook each until correctly soft.
4. In a large cooking pot with a thick bottom, put in olive oil, chopped garlic, herbes de Provence. Squeeze the tomatoes in by hand. Cook slowly until you have a thick tomato sauce.
5. Add the four separately cooked vegetables to the tomato sauce, mix thoroughly and heat. Pour off the excess oil from the top. It's ready to serve.
This method is much simpler, and produces the same great results. When we serve it to our neighbors and local friends it gets good reviews. When we admitted to some of the old-timers about our short-cut ways, they've told us that that's the way "it's always been done".
1. Prepare a large cooking pot with thick bottom, put in plenty olive oil.
2. Chop the onion, put it into the pot and start it cooking slowly. Chop and add the garlic.
3. Wash the bell pepper, cut into small strips, and stir it in.
4. Wash the tomatoes, chop them up in big chunks, and throw them in (no peeling) and stir in well.
5. Add the herbs de Provence and pepper. If the tomatoes are flavorless (all too common these days), we add a small can of condensed tomato sauce at this time.
6. Cut the eggplant and the zucchini into big chunks, then throw them into the pot. Then then need to be stirred down frequently until they've merged with the rest of the ingredients.
This takes about an hour, from when we first start chopping until everything is in the pot together. We then cook slowly for one to two hours, depending on how chunky you want in and how eager you are to try it.
|Conversions||30 g = 1 oz = 2 Tbs||180 g = 6 oz = 3/4 cup|
|1 kg = 2.2 lbs||1 lt = 1.06 qt||60 g = 2 oz = 1/4 cup||225 g = 8 oz = 1 cup|
|0.45 kg = 1 lb||0.95 lt = 1 qt||115 g = 4 oz = 1/2 cup||450 g = 16 oz = 1 pint|