Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Summer food

How do you like your ratatouille? The question arises because it's ratatouille-making season. The end of summer heralds a glut of summer vegetables which means, here in Montpellier, aubergine, courgettes and tomatoes. Plus green peppers.

I do not have a garden that produces anything more than sage, laurel and the odd chive so I have to buy all my veggies, unfortunately. Organic veg is never a huge bargain, but it tastes good, so now I have some time, I've been cranking up the ratatouille machine a.k.a the slow cooker.

I like ratatouille with still-crunchy veg plus soft well-cooked aubergine. It retains more of the vitamins this way and tastes lovely and fresh. My DB, on the other hand, likes it cooked for hours and hours so it becomes a rich-tasting mush. The slow cooker is ideal for this.

I fry the aubergine first to get them lovely and oily and brown, and add them to the slow cooker along with everything else (green and red peppers, onions, courgette, tomatoes, garlic, herbes de Provence). The oil from the aubergine is enough to flavour the whole pot once the whole thing is boiling happily.

The hardest part is resisting eating it straight away, because the idea is to freeze it to enjoy over winter.

I've also made some tomato sauce with some left-over sun-dried tomatoes added to the fresh. The flavour when finished was incredibly intense. Should be lovely over pasta and is great when you are in a rush and have nothing easy to cook quickly without resorting to an industrial ready meal. This Sunday is the Tomato Festival in Clapiers where I bought all my dried tomatoes last year. I've now finished them so I hope the same stand will be there this year too so I can stock up.

There is more to come as I ordered lots of aubergines from the Ruche Qui Dit Oui this week. I'm going to try caviar d'aubergine and make some baba ganoush which I learned how to cook from a Palestinian boyfriend back in my university days. It's absolutely delicious - so creamy, with a lovely smoky taste.

I only wish I had a larger freezer so I could fill it up more!

This summer I've been eating a lot of salad. It's been extremely hot, and I've developed a vinaigrette that I can't get enough of, and neither can my DB. I make it with whole almond purée which has a lovely rich roasted flavour, and add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, turmeric, dried nettles, herbes de Provence, garlic, S&P.

To this, which is made in the bowl, I add chopped mushrooms, cucumber, onion, raw beetroot, tomatoes, courgette, green pepper and of course, lots of lettuce. Then I add chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and hemp seeds, plus some chopped fermented tofu with olives and some avocado if I have any that hasn't gone off... (we've had lots of rotten avocados this year).

It makes a lovely, hearty, tasty salad that's healthy and a pleasure to eat.

What have you been eating this summer?


  1. OMG - feel like I've died and gone to heaven even just reading that salad and your dressing. Boring summer here foodwise - terrible weather. Strawberries were passable but still nothing like my nan grew. You are very inspiring with your healthy recipes x

    1. Thanks Anya. :)
      I've since discovered that beetroot is considered bad for osteoarthritis in Chinese medicine so will probably be cutting that out. :(


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