AppetizerFrançois de MélogueProvencal RecipesStarter CourseTaste

Rouget and Ratatouille the Provencal Cooking Rhythm

A couple of years ago, we spent a transformative week in the historic hill town of Cagnes sur Mer, widely considered the ‘Montmartre’ of the South and long favoured by impressionistic painters for its alluring beauty. Within five (5) days we went from our hurried, busy lives to a more relaxed, slowed-down Provencal pace, hopelessly seduced by incredibly fresh seafood, perfect vegetables, and daily rounds of pastis and rosé.

Marseille’s Bouillabaisse

Our visit to Provence included an obligatory stop at Chez FonFon for traditional bouillabaisse in Marseille. Bouillabaisse is Marseille’s signature dish. However, a bit like the city that proclaims to be its birthplace, bouillabaisse is a riddle. Is it a stew or a soup? Is it a noble dish or peasant food? Was it created by the invading Greeks or by hungry fishermen? Is it even from Marseille?

“Eating bouillabaisse is a carefully choreographed religious ceremony, requiring 24 hours’ notice and preparation, whose consumption is performed in two sacred rites ending with genuflexion to the sacred cauldron.”

Destination Haut Cagnes Sur Mer

Our rental was in Haut Cagnes Sur Mer with views of the Grimaldi Castle and easy access to Vieux Nice. We spent our days exploring the area, shopping in local markets and cooking a la Provencal. One day, after following the seagulls, we bought some fresh Rouget (Red Mullet) from a local fish stand and I created this recipe for Rouget stuffed with Ratatouille. The recipe combines Provencal classics black tapenade, an olive and caper spread and ratatouille a mixture of stewed vegetables with fresh fish. For my presentation, I was lucky to find fresh zucchini blossoms, and as you can see from the photo the result is dramatic

Rouget Ratatouille Provencal Cooking

Rouget stuffed with Ratatouille

blankChef François de Mélogue
This recipe is a three-in-one combination of my mother's ratatouille and tapenade for a delicious stuffed rouget.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 55 mins
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins
Course Appetizer, Starter Course
Cuisine French, Provencal
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

Tapenade Recipe

  • 2 cups Kalamata Olives
  • 4 tbsp Capers
  • 1 tin Anchovies
  • 8 Fresh Basil Leaves
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil

Ratatouille Recipe

  • 2 Japanese Eggplants diced
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Sweet Onion diced
  • 2 Greens Pepper diced
  • 3 Zucchini diced
  • 4 Garlic cloves mashed
  • 4 Tomatoes skinned and chopped
  • 1 cup Fresh Basil chopped
  • Salt and Pepper

Additional Ingredients

  • 4 Rouget or Small Red Snapper remove head and bones
  • 4 Zucchini Blossoms
  • 3 tbsp Quality Olive Oil

Instructions
 

Make the Ratatouille

  • Submerge the eggplant in ice-cold water and let it sit for 10 minutes to remove any bitterness. After reading a cookbook on Japanese cuisine, I started soaking eggplant rather than salting, which I found works better.
  • Heat olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed stockpan and sauté onions and peppers together over low to medium heat till softened and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  • Drain eggplants well and add to onions and peppers. Continue cooking for another ten to fifteen minutes. The eggplant won’t be fully cooked but will be on the way.
  • Add zucchini, garlic, and tomatoes and continue cooking on low heat till tender, about thirty minutes. Add basil, salt, and pepper and cook for 5 more minutes.
  • If you want, drizzle with a really fruity flavoured olive oil and sprinkle on finely grated Parmesan. Even a poached egg served on top is incredible.

Make the Tapenade

  • Drain your olives well. Put everything in your food processor and pulse to the texture you like. Yes, it is as simple as that. Tapenade has a long shelf life, although my tapenade never lasts more than a meal or two.

Rouget stuffed with Ratatouille

  • Put 1 tablespoon of tapenade between the 2 fish fillets. Stuff one tablespoon of cold ratatouille into the bottom of a zucchini blossom. Put the fish into the zucchini blossom.
  • Drizzle with olive and bake in a 450°F (235°C) oven for about 10 minutes.

Notes

This may seem a long and complicated recipe to some. To me, this is a quick and easy dish utilizing components I usually have already made. Both tapenade and ratatouille are great dishes to have laying around at all times. If friends stop by unexpectedly you can put a spoonful of tapenade on a cucumber slice or tartine and have a quick snack. Ratatouille makes a great light dinner or omelette mixed with goat cheese.
Keyword Peppers, Ratatouille, Seafood Recipes, Zucchini
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Additional Ratatouille Recipes:

Provencal Ratatouille Recipe
The traditional ratatouille recipe wants the vegetables to be brown in olive oil in a frying pan, each one separately. Do not peel them at all. All the vegetables are cooked with their skin to preserve a maximum of taste. Then, they will be mixed and will confit together in an earthenware casserole.
Provencal Ratatouille Recipe Traditional Terracotta Casserole Pottery
Mama Régine's Ratatouille from Cassis Bistro
Ratatouille is a delightful aromatic casserole. This bright and chunky summer vegetable blend will compliment any roasted or barbecued meat dish.
Check out this recipe
Ratatouille Recipe Cassis Bistro
Ratatouille Tian Estival
This tian is easy to prepare. It can be served hot from the oven or at room temperature. This baked ratatouille casserole is a variation on the traditional Provencal recipe.
Check out this recipe
Le Pistou Cookery School Uzès Ratatouille Tian
Remy’s Ratatouille
This Cocoa & Lavender recipe was adapted from Thomas Keller's French Laundry cookbook.
Check out this recipe
Provencal Ratatouille Tastes Provence

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Chef François de Mélogue

Chef François de Mélogue

François de Mélogue grew up in a very French household in Chicago. His earliest attempts at cookery began with the filleting of his sister’s goldfish at age two and a braised rabbit dish made with his pet rabbits by age seven. He eventually stopped cooking his pets and went to the highly esteemed New England Culinary Institute where he graduated top of his class in 1985.

Chef François de Mélogue has over 30 years of cross-cultural culinary experience and brings an impressive culinary history and a unique Mediterranean cooking style. After graduating top of his class from the notable New England Culinary Institute, Chef François began his career in a number of highly acclaimed kitchens across the country, including Chef Louis Szathmary’s restaurant The Bakery in Chicago, Old Drovers Inn, a Relais and Chateaux property in New York and Joel Robuchon Gastronomie restaurant in Paris, before opening award-winning restaurant Pili Pili in his hometown of Chicago, rated in the Top Ten new restaurants in the World by Food and Wine magazine in 2003.

While staging with Robuchon, Chef François began to shape his personal culinary philosophy of “Cuisine Actuelle,” which showcases the natural flavor in the ingredients used to create his dishes. In line with his belief that food should be prepared without unnecessary distractions or alterations, François creates honest, healthy and delicious cuisine that is approachable and always delightful. Chef François specializes in simply prepared Southern French-inspired cuisine enhanced by his appreciation and knowledge of fine wine, craft beer, charcuterie and cheese. He is a fervent student and strong advocate of regional French cuisines, specifically the rustic cuisines of Lyon and Provence.

Chef François resides in St Albans, Vermont with his wife Lisa and ten-year-old son Beaumont, who has proclaimed himself the family saucier. Chef François' latest publication French Cooking for Beginners: 75+ Classic Recipes to Cook Like a Parisian takes you on a culinary journey well beyond the streets of Paris. Francois is a professional photographer who specializes in food/product photography, real estate photography and shooting rural landscapes of both Vermont and France. Explore his work on VT Snapshot Photography.

Take a look at his website Simple French Cooking filled with delicious recipes and beautiful photos.

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