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You could say that ratatouille is the epitome of French cuisine—simple, local ingredients lovingly seasoned and prepared with care. Although the eponymous film, which takes place in a high-end restaurant, might make it seem like a fancy dish, it actually couldn’t be more simple. It is, after all, just a vegetable stew, like many others you might find around the Mediterranean.

However, there are a couple things that make ratatouille stand out above other veggie stews. The first is local seasoning. Stewing your vegetables with a bouquet garni consisting of the traditional herbes de Provence (rosemary, marjoram, thyme, oregano, and even lavender) will infuse your ratatouille with the unmistakable flavor of the South of France.

The second tip is to cook each of the vegetables individually before stewing them together to make sure each ingredient maintains its flavor as much as possible. This little touch might add a few extra minutes to the preparation, but trust me, it’s totally worth it!

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Pesto Pasta with Burrata

OK, you got me. Pesto is not French. However, it does do a good job of representing the regional flavors of the South of France. After all, Genoa, the birthplace of pesto, is just a short jaunt down the coast from Nice—not even three hours by car.

This tangy, and verdant sauce is a timeless indulgence. In the summer, it adds rich flavor to light vegetable and seafood dishes. But now that we’re approaching the Fall, I thought it’d be more timely to pair it with hearty pasta and fresh burrata to make it extra filling!

Although you can easily find pesto in any grocery store, it’s 100x better when you make it yourself. Here, you’ll learn how to make it with a food processor, but if you want to be really traditional, you can go at it by hand with a mortar and pestle.


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Clams in Persillade

I think it goes without saying that the Mediterranean Coast is a paradise for seafood lovers. Fresh fish and shellfish take center stage in so many Provençal specialties, such as cured, dried fish, aromatic fish soup, and of course, bouillabaisse—Marseille’s famous seafood stew.

As amazing as all of those dishes are, there is a much simpler dish that, for me, is unbeatable. And that’s palourdes en persillade. Palourdes, known elsewhere as carpet shell clams, are some of the finest and most popular clams in the Mediterranean and along the Atlantic Coast.

Every culture and region of the Mediterranean has its own ways of preparing clams. In the South of France, they are tossed in an herb-rich and creamy persillade sauce that is as delicious as it is simple to prepare. Learn how to make this timeless dish below!

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