French,  Savoury

Ratatouille and pride and prejudice

To start with, pride: Léo won his singles tennis match and his team were runners up in the tournament finals on Sunday, winning a silver cup for their valiant efforts. Had there been a cup for mothers who, against all odds, almost manage to keep their mouths shut, it would certainly have gone to me. The only thing to pass my lips was a discreet ‘make him run – he’s heavy’ (oh the shame!). It appears that I’m not the only one to suffer from Tournament Tourettes though; one boy’s mother was escorted off the court by an official for her loud and unsolicited ‘advice’ and ‘support’. Can you imagine? The cheek of the woman…
On to prejudice: Java keeps presenting me with her own prizes – body parts of a dead rabbit. So far today, I’ve been offered two legs (separately) and the head. She’s obviously just a dog doing doggie things, but instead of congratulating her on her hunting prowess, I am overcome by human bigotry and flee, screaming instructions (sensing a theme here?) at Luc to get rid of anything in the vicinity that is furry and dead. I might have to seek Hugo’s advice on how best to broach this with Java.
The word ratatouille comes from ‘touiller’, which means to stir or mix and the recipe originates from Nice in the South of France. There are many different versions, and I prefer mine to be light on tomato, heavy on red onion and garlic and cooked al dente.
Ingredients (serves 4)
100ml olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, crushed
2 tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
1 red pepper, sliced
1 fennel, sliced
1 large courgette, peeled and cut into cubes
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon Espelette pepper or paprika
Parsley or basil leaves to garnish
Heat the olive oil over a medium heat in a large cast iron pan. Add the onions and garlic and heat until softened. Add the tomato, pepper, fennel, courgette and seasoning, cover and leave to simmer over a medium heat, stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables are softened, but not overcooked. Add the garnish before serving.


  • apuginthekitchen

    I love ratatouille and the versions I have always had and made were cooked until the vegetables are virtually indistinguishable but a delicous mass of mushy veggies. I like your al dente version and must give that a try, it’s fresher and crisper and sounds wonderful.
    Java, OMG, I would run and scream too, oh dear I know sweet Java thinks she is bringing you coveted gifts but I would find it a tad upsetting for sure. I think Hugo must have a word with Java and let her gently know that although the gifts that in Java’s eyes are prized to we humans not so much and it’s something we can do without, Maybe Hugo can convince Java to bring a stick or a rock or something that doesn’t have blood and a head and eyes and feet. Ugh…

  • KJ

    Cooked properly, I like it, and without so much tomato is also my preference. I also loved the movie. (Congrats to Léo for his victory. Should I book my seat for Wimbleton, next?)

    • The Healthy Epicurean

      I realised afterwards that Ratatouille and Pride and Prejudice sounded as if I was going to critique two movies! I also loved the movie Ratatouille. I have seen it countless times because it came out when Léo was little and loved to watch movies over and over again. I will pass on your congratulations to Léo – thank you! And yes I think that Wimbledon and Roland Garros are his next stops! Have a good weekend. Are you still enjoying your AC? F

      • KJ

        We also have a copy of ‘Ratatouille,’ and watch it once a year. It should become listed as a classic and required viewing by all foodies and wine fiends. As for the AC, well, let’s just say that, today, I am cool, although not cool like I used to like to think I was, many years ago.

  • Thalia @ butter and brioche

    I do love a good ratatouille.. it is such a good way to use up seasonal veggies. I have to say you have cooked this to perfection and I can definitely see myself making the recipe to try. I think you can never go wrong with a hearty dish like this!

  • Sally

    Jane Grigson’s advice was to cook all the veg seperately and then combine at the end. It does make for an extraordinarily nice ratatouille but is very heavy on washing up. Yours with fennel looks just perfect.
    Pride and Prejudice is watched and read so often in our house that we can quote it verbatim – except for KP who just looks bemused 🙂

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