Ah, summer… Cycling to the beach, sword fights with giant fennel batons, building a tree house (more like a bungalow really) in the shrubs across the house or hiking through the old salt marshes of Séné, July had just started, school was truly over and all these adventures made us all very hungry. There are three dishes that colours the memory of my blessed summers: Dad’s legendary tabbouleh, homemade tomato coulis and of course, my mother’s ratatouille. Not a week without, it has to have had an impact… Tastes and smells? Of course it has! The solid anchors of a happy childhood. Did you ever wonder why they call food comfort?
First, and from memory, I gather the core of the ratatouille ingredients; 2 small onions, 3 garlic cloves, a red pepper, a courgette and an aubergine. You can have fun by adding a small fennel bulb, like I did. For the herbs, rosemary or thyme (or both), I used fresh dill and thyme from the garden. Start by chopping the ingredients but keep them apart; I start to gently fry onions, pepper, fennel and garlic together in a pot with olive oil… Then the aubergine with a bit of salt and pepper.
When everything starts to look good and sweated, pour in a glass of white wine and let it reduce a bit…
Once reduced, pour in a large jar of peeled tomatoes (750g) and with a knife or a spatula, gently cut the tomatoes in halves; let it simmer for 10 minutes and then add the chopped courgette.
For the roast beef, round in this case ( 850g – 2lb), preheat the oven at 200c and roast for 15min, then 45 min at 180c. I roast the beef with a bulb of garlic. Once done, cover with aluminium foil for about an hour.
Before serving the ratatouille, I chop some dill, a scalion and few slices of courgette, for contrast and texture…
Start slicing the beef and mix the garlic cloves with the gravy-jus in the dish. Serve the ratatouille with some boiled or roasted new potatoes wedges. Meat is not necessary for this dish; it is lovely with good basmati rice too! Bon appétit and happy memories!