I must admit, ever since the movie Ratatouille came out, I often relate this name to the chef rat, instead of the French dish! I know, the French would probably strangle me for such a blasphemous thought! But worry no more, I now know my place, and am loving this dish to bits.
So ratatouille is in fact a traditional Provençal vegetable stew, which explains the mainly mediterranean vegetables ingredients, like courgettes, tomatoes and aubergines. This dish originated in Nice, that beautiful sunny southern town in France.
For me, I like having my version of this dish as a main dish. If you feel that you need something more filling to have together, one suggestion is to have some pan-fried white boudin with ratatouille as a side! Some people like to have ratatouille as a filling for crepes, or as the topping for bruschetta! Be creative and enjoy it however you like!
#1 Ratatouille à la Michelle
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- a pinch of thyme
- 1 tbsp of olive oil
- 5-6 fillets of anchovies (stored in oil)
- 1 medium aubergine, chopped
- 1 courgette, chopped
- 1 green pepper, chopped
- 2-3 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tbsp of tomato purée
- 2 tbsp of white wine (optional)
- water (to add more liquid in case the tomato purée is too thick)
- salt to taste
- butter, to be used for grilling the vegetables
- In a large grilling pan, spread some butter all over the pan, heat it up and evenly fill the pan with aubergines until the pan surface is covered.Sprinkle some salt on the aubergines. (You can do this in batches if your pan is not big enough to hold all the aubergines in one go.)
- Let the aubergines grill slowly, at the same time, heat up another large sauce pan/wok, and add in the garlic, anchovies, olive oil, and bay leaf, and stir them over a low heat.
- When the first batch of aubergines are grilled on all sides, move the aubergines into the sauce pan/wok containing the other ingredients. Continue grilling the rest of the aubergines, green pepper and courgettes by batches. This is to add that extra grilled flavour to this dish.
- While the vegetables are grilling, add in the tomatoes and thyme into the sauce pan/wok and continue to stir.
- Once all the aubergines, green pepper and courgettes are grilled and added to the other ingredients, add in the white wine and stir.
- Add in the tomato purée, and if necessary, some water, stir well and let the ingredients simmer until all vegetables are soft.
And voilà, this dish is ready to be served, whether on its own or to pair it with something else! And why not open a bottle of rosé to enjoy it with. It goes quite well together!
#2 Rabbit Red-Wine Stew
When I first cooked this dish, it is one of the rare ones that my hubby gave his thumbs up, meaning it’s good enough to be cooked again! So, ever since then, I have improved on it and here, I’ll like to share it with you.
TIP: Since this is a stew, you should cook it 3-4 hours in advance before serving. Worry not, this is an easy dish, it just needs time to “stew”.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):
- 2 onions, chopped
- 4-6 potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 1 rabbit, cut up in parts
- flour (for dusting)
- butter (to sear the rabbit
- 1 tbsp of cooking oil
- 2 bay leaves
- pinch of thyme
- a pinch of black pepper powder
- Sea salt to taste
- ½ bottle of Merlot
- In a large bowl, mix some flour with black pepper and salt, then use it to evenly dust all parts of the rabbit.
- In a medium to large cocotte, heat up the cooking oil with butter, then sear the rabbit parts on all sides until they start turning golden brown.
- Remove the rabbit parts onto a plate, and start frying the onions in the remaining oil. Add in the bay leaves and stir continuously.
- Once the onions have softened, add in the thyme, potatoes and carrots and stir.
- When all ingredients are lightly sautéed, add the rabbit parts back into the cocotte, let the other ingredients spread evenly around them, then add in the red wine.
- Cover the cocotte and let the stew simmer over low heat for 1.5 hours or until the liquid thickens, stirring occasionally.
- If this dish is ready way before your planned meal time, you can re-heat it up 5 minutes before the meal. It should make a lovely main dish served with bread!
I hope you will have fun trying these French dishes. Especially the rabbit stew, since rabbit is not such a common meat for many. So, have fun cooking!