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5 Simple French Dinners


You don't have to be a vegetarian to love this stewed vegetable dish. It can be served over rice or pasta for a filling meal that's healthy, inexpensive and about as flavorful as mixed veggies have a right to be. Most ratatouille recipes use four popular and abundant Mediterranean vegetables as a base: zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper and tomato. They're usually dressed up with a bouquet garni, a blend of herbs tied in a bag. This could include or be accompanied by parsley, thyme, bay leaf, celery seed, tarragon, marjoram, orange peel, peppercorns, chervil, summer savory or rosemary. A mirepois of onions, carrots and celery is usually added as well.

If you keep a summer vegetable garden or have access to locally grown produce from a friendly neighborhood farmers market, making ratatouille is a great way to experience vine-ripened freshness the way it was meant to be savored. These recipes will show you the basics. This is one dish that invites experimentation, though, so once you get the hang of it, substitute some of your favorite vegetables.