Celebrate Bastille Day with ratatouille, clafoutis
Today is Bastille Day, the French national holiday, and since it’s a summer day off in France, people celebrate with a picnic or outdoor party before watching fireworks. Make ratatouille, the popular slow-simmered vegetable stew originally from the south of France. The dish glorifies summer produce and is easy to prepare for a crowd.
Across France, most cooks have a recipe for ratatouille. I like to cook the main ingredients — eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers — separately, then add tomatoes and herbs before simmering to blend the flavors and let the cooking juices intensify. Do not worry if you cook it longer than intended. The vegetables will melt in your mouth. Serve the dish on its own or as an accompaniment to grilled meats.
The next day, use ratatouille leftovers to make another French classic: a clafoutis. This is essentially an egg custard pudding (the most famous is sweet and contains cherries). For this savory version, combine eggs, creme fraiche, milk, a generous amount of Comte or Gruyere, and stir in the ratatouille. Bake until the top has a beautiful golden color. Serve clafoutis warm or cold, for a picnic or a light supper with salad. It’s seductive summer food.
Beatrice Peltre can be reached at email@example.com