Delicacy, exquisite and sophistication might be the words that come into your mind when describing the French cuisine.
For the French, cooking is an art. The cooking knowledge and skills required to prepare a good culinary meal is something that the French people are proud of when they present meals. France has many culinary regions and each one has a specific characteristic of its own food and area, relying heavily on local products. French cuisine is a unique, cultural experience that melds flavorful, nutritious foods with beauty, leisure, and therapeutic preparation.
Ratatouille is a culinary specialty of Nice, also found throughout Provence. Usually it is served as a side dish, but can also be served as a main dish when accompanied by rice or bread. The great thing about ratatouille is its versatility, it can be cooked in different ways, using varying ingredients.
- 2 red onions
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 2 aubergines
- 3 courgettes
- 3 red or yellow peppers
- 6 ripe tomatoes
- 15g fresh basil
- olive oil
- a few sprigs of fresh thyme
- 400 g tin of quality plum tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- ½ a lemon
- Prep your ingredients before you start – peel and cut the onions into wedges, then peel and finely slice the garlic.
- Trim the aubergines and courgettes, deseed the peppers and chop into 2.5cm chunks.
- Roughly chop the tomatoes.
- Pick the basil leaves and set aside, then finely slice the stalks.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large casserole pan or saucepan over a medium heat, add the chopped aubergines, courgettes and peppers (you may need to do this in batches) and fry for around 5 minutes, or until golden and softened, but not cooked through. Spoon the cooked veg into a large bowl.
- Add the onion, garlic, basil stalks and thyme leaves to the pan with another drizzle of oil, if needed. Fry for 10 to 15 minutes, or until softened and golden.
- Return the cooked veg to the pan and stir in the fresh and tinned tomatoes, the balsamic and a good pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Mix well, breaking up the tomatoes with the back of a spoon.
- Cover the pan and simmer over a low heat for 30 to 35 minutes, or until reduced, sticky and sweet. Tear in the basil leaves, finely grate in the lemon zest and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
- Serve with a hunk of bread or steamed rice.