I hate to say it but this recipe, a true late summer showstopper, may be coming at you a little late in the season–that is, if you’re reading this post from a state that is or is like Michigan. But here on the island of Corsica, the time is now for finding vegetable treasures like bell peppers and tomatoes at the local market. And so it is with a slightly guilty conscience that I share with you my first, but not last, rendez-vous with ratatouille.
This recipe was inspired by an incredible French food blog I’ve just recently fallen in love with called Manger. Seriously, what this woman eats and how she photographs it makes you want to drop everything and move as fast as you can to the south of France. She claims that the best, most traditional way of enjoying ratatouille is to top the stewed veggies with a sunny-side up egg (accompanying the dish with crusty bread and red wine goes without saying). So I followed her orders dutifully and was so not disappointed.
The fussiest ingredient in this dish is the sprigs of fresh thyme, but I do believe they are responsible for sealing the deal on its deliciousness. Thankfully, I was able to find a bunch of thym frais at the market this morning.
Adapted from Manger
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 red or green pepper, sliced
2 zucchinis, sliced
1 eggplant, cut into cubes
2 medium tomatoes, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 sprigs of fresh thyme
a splash of red wine
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
First off, chop all your veggies. Note: I used half a red pepper and half a green pepper but only because I had the former lying around. One full pepper of either shade will definitely work.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil then add onions and cook until the onions are translucent. Throw in the peppers and cook three minutes. Add the garlic, zucchini, eggplant, and thyme, and cook three minutes more. Season with salt and pepper (I added a sprinkling of herbs de provence at this point, too, because I had it, but no worries if it’s not in your spice cupboard).
Finally, add the tomatoes and the dash of red wine, then reduce heat and let the mixture simmer for about 20 minutes, or until most of the excess liquid has evaporated. Stir occasionally. When the veggies are just a few minutes from being finished, turn your attention to preparing your egg.
Coat a small pan lightly with olive oil. Heat oil just a bit on low heat then crack one egg into the pan. Let this little guy cook slowly. If you want, cover the pan with a lid for a few moments to help the yolk cook.
When you think the egg is ready (be brave! trust your intuition!), first spoon a hearty helping of veggies onto a plate then top with the sunny-side up egg. Pour yourself a glass of wine. It’s okay if it’s two in the afternoon. You’re channeling your inner Frenchman.
I find this way of cooking ratatouille pretty easy and foolproof, but others (including Julia Child) will swear by very different cooking methods. Some say the ingredients must be cooked separately in order to avoid mushiness. Other say the vegetables must be layered and baked. However you want to prepare your ratatouille, I really don’t think you can go wrong when you’re working with ingredients as stellar as these!