Mediterranean Flavors – Provencal France

ratatouille

Ratatouille fixings

One reason why the Mediterranean Diet has captured the imagination of so many, is its plethora of fresh flavors. Some of the flavors are new to us, but many are familiar, just offered up in new or unique ways. But the “Mediterranean” is a large area, and although many foods like garlic and olive oil, are common to all, each area also has its own special taste palette.

Provençal France (the area that includes Cannes and the French Riviera) is one of the areas whose flavors are somewhat familiar to us, but not necessary well known. Provençal foods take advantage of bountiful seas and gardens. To me, what really differentiates a Provençal inspired meal are the herbs used. While all Mediterranean countries use many more herbs than the traditional foods of the U.S., each Mediterranean country seems to have its favorites. Southern France is particular to fennel, chives, thyme and lavender. Aromatic vegetables like fennel bulb, peppers, and leeks are an important part of the Provençal menu too.

One of my favorite Southern France inspired meals is Ratatouille, a combination of fresh vegetables and lots of herbs. It is not a visually attractive meal, but the flavors………mmm. The flavors will take you to the south of France in your imagination. This is the best time of year to make your own ratatouille, as it practically cries out for fresh tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers. I make at least one big pot each September. The first night we served it over pasta sprinkled with Parmesan. Last night it was served as a side dish along with a Provençal inspired omelet.

I have included the recipe (easy to make, enough for 2-3 meals) over on my Seed to Pantry web site. Ratatouille is a good recipe to try if you aren’t sure you like eggplant, as all the flavors intermingle.

Do you live in or near the Tri-Cities, Washington? If so, join us on September 26 for a Mediterranean Flavors class where we will prepare and taste several dishes from around the Mediterranean.

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About the Author

Renee Pottle, an author and heart-healthy educator, loves to explore and write about the Mediterranean Diet. She blogs at SeedToPantry.com and HestiasKitchen.com.

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