We now have huge quantities in the garden of everything we need to make ratatouille, or chichoumeille as it’s called in the Languedoc, or samfaïna in Catalan….and there are probably as many names for this combination of Mediterranean vegetables as there are languages and dialects around the region.
There are differences of opinion among cookery writers as to how this quite simple dish should be prepared. We think it’s best if the roughly chopped pieces of each of the different vegetables – onion, green pepper, courgette, aubergine, but not tomato – are sautéed separately in olive oil before they are all combined with the peeled and chopped tomatoes, some garlic, herbs, salt and pepper, and then the whole mixture is simmered for about three-quarters of an hour. Once it’s made it can be kept in the fridge for a few days to be reheated or served cold, and the flavour improves with keeping. We’ll freeze some of ours, but you can bottle it too, putting it in jars at the stage when you mix the vegetables and then heating them in a steriliser. I haven’t tried this last method yet so I’m not sure about timing. I’ll have to ask friends and neighbours who do this.