Pissaladiere vs Ratatouille - final face-off of the French week


Ratatouille - French aubergine and courgette stew

The last meal of our French week was an adult and sophisticated (kids had been taken to their train) candlelit Sunday dinner of Ratatouille and Pissaladiere.

Everyone I suppose knows Ratatouille made famous by a French rodent with a love of cooking. The lesser known of my dishes Pissaladiere, which has nothing to do with men's toilets, is a tart topped with onions, anchovies and olives. It is a sort of a Provencal version of pizza I suppose. Provence neighbours Italy, so no wonder they share similar ideas and tastes.

Pissaladiere Provencal pizza with olives and anchovies
Olives should be black - otherwise a very authentic effort!
I thought I would love the pissaladiere and almost didn't bother with the ratatouille. I thought basically it's just a mush of soggy and watery vegetables in tomato sauce. I think had too many bad versions during my veggie days. But I thought there must be something to it, because it's so famous. Maybe done by someone with obvious and abundant talent like Remy or myself it would be a great dish. And I was right, it was awesome.

I was disappointed with the Pissaladiere though. I think it probably would have needed a generous helping of cheese on top and maybe the base should be thinner. Oops, sounds like pizza.

Ratatouille - French vegetable stew with saffron

Ratatouille recipe (serves 2)

1 yellow onion
1 clove of garlic
1 red pepper
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme
1 tbsp fresh chopped basil
3 tomatoes
1/2 vegetable stock cube / stock pot
salt and pepper
1 small aubergine
1 small courgette
Pinch of saffron (optional but definitely recommended)

Heat oil in a pan. Chop the onion and cut the red pepper into 1.5 cm squares. Add to pan a cook on low to medium heat for 5 minutes. Mince the garlic and add to the pan. Continue to fry until the vegetables start to soften. Add the chopped fresh herbs and the chopped tomatoes. Cover the pan and let simmer until tomatoes have softened and given out their liquid.

Cube the aubergine and courgette into about 1.5 cm cubes Add to pan. Crush the saffron fronds in pestle and mortar and add. Season with salt and pepper.

Simmer covered on low heat for about half an hour. If there is too much liquid remove the cover towards the end and let the excess evaporate. It should be thick not soupy. Check seasoning. Garnish with fresh basil and serve with crusty fresh bread.

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