These are two classic southern French dishes that you may or may not have heard of! The first is a Biterrois dish, meaning that it originates from the Languedocian town of Béziers. It is very similar to the Provençal Ratatouille but with some key differences: they way that the vegetables are cut and the the omission of courgettes! The second is a herb and olive oil based bread not dissimilar to the Italien focaccia.
I chose these too as they scream summer, with all their herby mediterranean flavours. They are not complicated to make and can be adapted in so many ways. For example the Chichoumée is easily made vegetarian/vegan by leaving out the lardons, or you could swap the lardons for a spicy chorizo. It can be served with bread aside as I am doing; in a tart, with a tortilla (espagnol) with an egg cracked into the middle, hot or cold!
The fougasse I decided to make quite plain, just with a smattering of herbs de Provence as it is accompanying the Chichoumée. However it is quite usual to add chopped olives, or fried onion and lardons, or anchovies and more fresh rosemary and thyme for a punchier flavour. It can also sometimes be made sweet with fleur d’oranger and sugar.
- Start by heating 2 tbsp of good quality olive in a heavy bottom pan and add the aubergines with a large pinch of rock salt. cook over a medium-low heat to soften, turning regularly as you do not want them to colour.
- Add the onions, and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stirring continually.*
- Add the peppers and mix well. Cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, herbs, garlic and seasoning. Stir well and cook over a gentle heat for half an hour.
- Check seasoning and that the aubergines are thoroughly cooked.
- Serve warm, chilled or hot!
*If you are going to add lardons/chorizo to the dish this is the point to do it.