Thursday, October 27, 2011


This past Sunday I did what I haven't done in a while: walk to the grocery store and stock up on foods for the day.

I bought radishes and assembled a little morning snack of radishes, butter, and sea salt on wheat.  Normally, I like the combination on a fresh French baguette, but it just seemed like a waste of a one mile walk to and from the grocery store if I immediately loaded up on a loaf of bread...although, I guess globs of Frentel butter isn't an ideal after walk ingredient either...


The main reason I dragged myself out of bed early Sunday morning was to grocery shop for ingredients for a dish that I've been longing to make for a while now.

A few months back I watched a re-run of Avec Eric with Eric Ripert where he created his version of ratatouille.  I'm a huge fan of ratatouille (both the movie and the dish...though I've only made the dish once in college) and it's simplicity--I like to think of it as the ideal Autumn lunch.

What really intrigued me about Ripert's ratatouille was that after the vegetables were prepared, he loaded ladle-fulls into coquettes, made a little nest in the center, and cracked two eggs into the crater.  Genius. 

This is my variation on Ripert's recipe.  Although there's absolutely nothing wrong with his, I made my ratatouille based on what was available at the store.  In case you're interested, here is his recipe.

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, cut into ½-inch dice
2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch dice
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 tablespoon tomato paste
5 roma tomatoes, cut into ½-inch dice
2 small zucchini, cut into ½-inch dice
1 yellow squash, cut into  ½-inch dice
2 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into ½-inch dice
8 eggs
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)
¼ cup julienned fresh basil
fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion, red pepper, and garlic to the pan and sauté until tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant and cook until tender, about 10 minutes, adding water as necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

This dish is fantastic the next day so don't be afraid to make it ahead of time.  It's definitely one of those dishes that gets better overnight when all the flavors marry.

Preheat oven to broil.

If the ratatouille was done ahead and kept cold, gently re-warm over medium heat. Spoon about ½ cup of the ratatouille into a cocotte, crack 2 eggs on top of the ratatouille and place the cocottes in the broiler and cook until the egg whites are just barely set, about 5 minutes; serve hot with Parmesan and basil on top.  Serve with crusty bread.

Makes 4 servings.

For the bread:
Cut a fresh baguette into 1 inch slices.  Line them up on a shallow rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle lightly with extra virgin olive oil and broil on high for a minute or until the bread becomes golden.  (You really have to be careful with this part.  From experience, your toasts can go from golden brown to burnt in 0.05 seconds) Remove the toasts from the broiler.  Peel a clove of garlic and cut off one end.  Rub the garlic on the toasts for the perfect garlic bread.  

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