The usual way to make a crumble mix is with flour and margarine (or some other shortening ingredient such as butter or lard) crumbled together by hand or using a food processor. The crumble mix is then sprinkled as a topping over various kinds of fruit or vegetable dishes and baked until the crumble is golden brown.
This version of crumble mix is a money saver because it uses leftover bread instead of flour, and is a good way of using up any remaining ends of medium to hard cheese. While it isn’t essential to have a simple food processor to crumble the bread, margarine and cheese together, it does speed things up, but it can also be made by hand with a knife and a grater.
The savoury crumble topping is a winner because it saves waste and adds a crunchy texture. The cheese (any sort except soft cheese) is a perfect complement to the flavour of the vegetables and provides extra calcium for a growing family, while not being too heavy for an evening meal.
How the Mediterranean Cuisine Ratatouille Recipe Became Popular in Britain
Ratatouille is a traditional French recipe using fresh vegetables and olive oil from the South of France Mediterranean area, known as the Midi. It was hardly known in Britain before the 1950s because the main ingredients were not grown in Northern Europe. The ideal ingredients would be sweet red onions, sweet peppers, young courgettes (zucchini), wild mushrooms and tomatoes, all fresh, with extra virgin olive oil and mountain herbs.
It was the famous cookery writer Elizabeth David who created a demand for exotic vegetables and other ingredients native to Southern Europe in the 1950s. By the 1960’s, thanks to better transport and growing methods, many more food items from the Mediterranean area became available in Britain and the rest of Northern Europe, and ratatouille became popular with home cooks. This is just one of many variations of it.
- 2 medium onions (use red onions for a milder taste)
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic or more if liked
- 3 sweet peppers (use 1 red, one green and one yellow for eye appeal)
- 4 large mushrooms or equivalent in small mushrooms
- 3 medium zucchini (courgettes)
- Chopped herbs to taste (basil, sage and rosemary are best)
- 3 or 4 fresh or dried bay leaves
- One 400gms/10 oz can of tomatoes
- Salt and ground black pepper
- Chop all ingredients, or slice/chop different vegetables ie fine-chop the onions, slice the courgettes, or whatever looks attractive.
- Add a few tablespoonfuls of good olive oil to a pan warming on medium heat.
- Put in the onions first for a couple of minutes.
- Add the rest of the sliced vegetables, chopped or shredded herbs and seasoning to taste.
- Stir in the can of tomatoes (or fresh if available) last.
- Lower heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Meanwhile, prepare the Savoury Cheese Crumble Mix, as below.
- Transfer to large ovenproof dish, and switch on oven to warm at medium heat.
Savoury Cheese Crumble Mix Recipe Using Leftover Food:
- 3 or 4 slices or crusts of any kind of leftover bread (using different kinds together is fine)
- 2 oz-3oz (or a couple of tbs) of margarine, butter or any other cooking fat
- 2-3 oz of any kind(s) of medium to hard cheese (mature cheese and mixing types works well)
Directions for the Leftover Bread Crumble Mix and to Assemble Dish:
- Crumble together as for making pastry, using a food processor or knife and hand grater.
- Sprinkle and smooth over the ratatouille in the oven proof dish
- Cook for about 10 to 15 minutes in a moderate oven until the crumble topping is golden brown.
- Greasing the top of the dish can make cleaning easier afterwards.
- Don’t overfill the dish.
- The ratatouille and leftover bread crumble mix can be prepared at different times, and each can be frozen separately.
- If frozen when assembled in the oven dish for later cooking, make sure defrosting is complete before putting in a heated oven.
This dish is good for complete cheap family meals, or as a side dish with meat. It is particularly useful if there are is a vegetarian or two at the table, because they can eat this with more cheese and some leafy green vegetables.