Oven Dried Tomatoes and Courgettes
When I think of food in France, particularly Provence in the summer, I think of fresh, simple, and healthy. I was able to make such a dish several years ago, Oven Dried Tomatoes and Courgettes (zucchini), that turned out to be the perfect complement to go with my sea bass and contributed to a delightful evening spent at a 16th Century chateau in rural France near Grenoble.
My former husband and business partner and I had happened upon this chateau that was also a gîte (an overnight option, usually in charming and historical buildings, with no more than five guest rooms) once when we were traveling north from Provence back to our home base in Germany. We were taking the way known as the Route Napoléon, the 325 km route that Napoléon took when he escaped from Elba in 1815 — but that’s another story for another time.
Throughout the years, I’ve continued bringing guests to this gracious 16th Century chateau in the mountains as often as I can. It’s always a highlight for me and my clients. Since there are no restaurants nearby, the charming hosts offer a table d’hôte (a set dinner for guests) almost every night. For those nights that one is not offered, there’s a kitchen in the old larder that guests can use to prepare their own meals.
Several years ago, we were traveling with clients who were “foodies.” We were really excited about them being able to experience the hosts’ magnificent table d’hôtes. It just so happened, however, that the husband was away tending their vineyards near Montpelier, and that the wife was at the chateau on her own. On one of the two nights that we were there, she had a meeting and so was NOT able to prepare a meal. I thought, “What will I do? My clients expect a gourmet meal most nights when they’re traveling!” Well, I decided to do some shopping and prepare the evening meal myself in the little kitchen for guests. I went into Grenoble and sourced fresh sea bass, tomatoes, zucchini, herbs, wine, and other accoutrements that would make up our dinner.
I had never prepared any of the dishes that I had planned and was making up my own Sea Bass en Folie recipe, so I was more than a little nervous. I’d just purchased a recipe book of Provençal Cuisine, so I decided to try a dish from it as a side. I don’t even remember what else I made because the sea bass and tomatoes and zucchinis were the stand-outs. The stars must have been in perfect alignment and I must have been divinely inspired because my clients ended up saying it was the best meal of their trip!
As part of my weekly European recipe series, I’d like to share that delicious dish with you – and so here it is:
Oven Dried Tomatoes & Courgettes
Cooking Time: 3 – 4 hours
- 6 long courgettes (zucchini)
- 2 lbs. very ripe tomatoes
- 1 clove garlic
- Olive oil
- Fresh thyme
- Skin the tomatoes, cut into quarters and remove the seeds so only the flesh remains. Leave to drain. TIP: blanche the tomatoes first to easily skin them.
- Meanwhile, slice the courgettes into approximately ½- inch pieces. Place the garlic in the base of an oven-proof dish and sprinkle with the thyme leaves.
- Alternate a layer of courgettes, a layer of tomatoes and so on.
- Drizzle with olive oil and bake slowly in the oven for 3 – 4 hours at 250 F.
This dish is easy to make and delicious in the summer. It can be served hot or cold.