Greeting dear readers… or as they say in France… salut ! We are in the thick of the August holidays and honestly, if you’re not on the beach by 9am you just might find yourself hitting up the community pool… it’s busy, busy days over here…
Not that anyone’s complaining, mind you. The weather is gorgeous and even if you’re still working (and a few of us sad-saps still are), there are tons of concerts and outdoor shows (theatre & comedy) to take advantage of in the evening.
And since I’m still “in the office” – albeit at a much slower, summer-in-the-south-of-france pace, I still need to come up with some quick dinnertime ideas to throw together after work.
One of our favorite quick side-dishes in the summer is ratatouille. It’s really very easy to make: an eggplant, a few zucchinis, tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and garlic – sprinkled with thyme, salt, and pepper and left to simmer for about 40 minutes in a generous helping of olive oil… and you’ve got a little bit of “Provence on a plate”.
And an even cooler thing to do is to turn your leftover ratatouille into a tasty quiche. I’ve included an American recipe below which very closely mirrors the French one I used. I had a few herbes de provence on hand, so I used those instead of thyme, but I’m pretty sure “ratatouille purists” would stick to thyme and throw in a bay leaf when cooking the ratatouille.
A few tips that aren’t mentioned in the recipe – Be sure to cook the ratatouille on a low flame and feel free to cook it a bit longer than 40 minutes if the veggies are still a bit firm. Also, you can toss a bit of thyme directly into the “egg mixture” – which the French recipe recommended – it adds great flavor and my husband raved about it… so it’s got the official French “green light”.
Quiche à la Ratatouille
*Pastry for single-crust pie (9 inches)
1 small eggplant
2 medium zucchinis
1 medium green, red, or yellow pepper
2 medium tomatoes
1 small onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese
1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
2-3 teaspoons thyme
salt & pepper to taste
Unroll pastry into a 9-in. deep-dish pie plate; flute edges. Line unpricked pastry with a double thickness of heavy-duty foil. Bake at 450° for 8 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 minutes longer. Cool on a wire rack.
(*you can also do a “crustless quiche” – just pour ratatouille mixture into a buttered pie plate or dish of your choice)
Chop the eggplant, zucchinis, green pepper, tomatoes and onion. In a large skillet, sprinkle the vegetables with thyme and sauté in oil until tender – about 30-40 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Transfer to prepared pastry; sprinkle with cheese.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, salt and pepper; pour over cheese. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. Yield: 6 servings.
recipe adapted from: A Taste of Home