10 December 2005

Memories of summer food

To make up for all the talk of ducks and mutton, I thought I'd put in a recipe for something more vegetarian, and more summery. I have to thank Peter Hertzmann for this idea (see Peter's web site for many other great ideas about French cooking and eating).

We grow eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomatoes in our summer vegetable garden. Those are most of the ingredients for ratatouille, a Mediterranean speciality in which these vegetables (along with onions, olive oil, thyme, and garlic) are cooked together on top of the stove until they break down completely and the flavors blend. Some recipes call for mashing the vegetables in a mortar when they are done.

Here's a way to make ratatouille in the oven, preserving the shape and texture of the different vegetables but getting good flavors at the same time. Cut eggplants, zucchini, and tomatoes into round slices. Arrange them in an oiled baking dish so that the slices are standing on end. Here I have red and yellow tomatoes, but all red tomatoes is fine of course. Add slices of bell peppers, red or green, if you want. Pack the dish pretty tightly. Alternate eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, and tomato slices so that you have a good mixture.

When the baking dish is full, thinly slice a couple of cloves of garlic (more or less to taste) and insert the garlic slices between the vegetable slices so that garlic is spread all through the dish. Sprinkle on salt, pepper, and thyme to taste. Put in a couple of bay leaves if you want. And then drizzle olive oil over the whole thing.

Mid-way through the cooking (or done, if you like it this way)

Put the dish in a medium oven (325ºF -- that's 160ºC) for an hour or more, until all the vegetables are cooked and the kitchen smells like Provence. Serve hot, warm, or cold.

This looks cooked to me.

Here's a view out of our kitchen window in summertime.


  1. Hi Anna,

    How did you find my blog? Thanks for the comment...


  2. Hi Mimi,

    As I said, I got the idea from Peter Hertzmann, who visited us here last year. His web site is full of good ideas.

    Collette says hi! Walt too.


  3. a variation I make is to alternate round slics of tomato, zuccini, onion, sprinkle capers and a good grated cheese.

  4. I've just found your blog after reading your posts on slowtrav since last spring. I teach writing and I have always enjoyed your work since I found you and Dave and Kevin and Kathy on slowtrav. Your writing is detailed and textured, your writing voice clear and energetic. We live in the Dordogne during the summer (West Coast winters) and your great pictures and text help us feel in touch with our beautiful France. I'll follow your entries on this blog closely. Thanks Ken.

  5. Hello Dennis,

    Thanks. I'm enjoying living here and writing about it. It must be hard to be away from France for long stretches, but I can imagine how much you look forward to those summers in the Southwest.



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