Sunday Dinner: Explore France and chicken ratatouille

Jan 15, 2012 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Do you think you need to explain to your kids that French food doesn't really mean french fries and French toast? Looking for the perfect time for a geography (and culinary) lesson? Make it Sunday dinner!

Chicken ratatouille

Dinnertime destination: France

Ratatouille is a traditional French stew that hails from the Provence region of France. It's made with cubes of vegetables, usually eggplant, zucchini, tomato, onions and garlic. This ratatouille recipe includes chicken to make this a hearty Sunday dinner to enjoy with your family and friends.

Worldwide exploration through food

Whether you're continuing your worldwide travels through food or just starting your "trip," Sunday dinner can be a fun way to learn about other cultures while enjoying good food and good company. Break out your homemade passports and get ready to stamp a page for France!

Fun French facts:

Ask each family member to do some digging for information about France. It's a great way to learn something new! Here are a few facts to get the conversation started:

  • Although France is about the size of Texas, it has seven mountain ranges and five major river systems.
  • The country is sometimes referred to as L'Hexagone, which means the hexagon, because of the geometrical shape of the country.
  • There is an underground -- or underwater -- rail tunnel known as the Channel Tunnel, that connects England and France. It runs beneath the English Channel and connects near Calais in France.
  • Some say April Fool's Day originated in France in 1564 when France started following the Gregorian calendar. People who didn't know about the switch were made fun of because they continued to think April 1 was the first day of the French New Year.

Chicken ratatouille recipe

Serves 4


  • 4 medium chicken breast halves, skinned, deboned, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 large onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 red, orange or yellow bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 (28 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Large handful basil leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil to a large sauté pan. When the oil is hot, add the chicken and sauté for about eight minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and set it aside.
  2. Over medium heat, add one tablespoon of olive oil to a large sauté pan. Toss in the eggplant and sprinkle to season with a bit of salt and pepper. Sauté the eggplant for six to eight minutes or until it begins to soften. Remove the eggplant from the pan and set it aside.
  3. Using the same pan from the eggplant, add one tablespoon of oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and bell pepper. Cook for about seven minutes or so. Remove the onion mixture from the pan and set it aside.
  4. Once more, over medium heat, add one tablespoon of oil to the pan; then add in the zucchini and squash. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté the mixture for about five minutes. Add the tomatoes and the cooked chicken along with the garlic, and continue to cook the mixture for about five minutes. Add the eggplant, peppers and onions back into the pan.
  5. Simmer the entire mixture for just a few minutes; then add in the vinegar, olives and basil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve hot, topped with feta cheese.

Great conversation combined with a delicious French-style meal can make your family shout, "oui, oui!"

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