I love this recipe for its summery and sunny feeling! Ratatouille is a french provencal stewed vegetable and there are many ways about how a ratatouille should be cooked. To be honest I do not see the point to argue on those methods; my point here is to give you a recipe that can be done in minutes even in advance and frozen or kept in the fridge until you need it because like every slow cooked recipe it comes at its best when you reheat it.
So for 4 people (but you can easily double the portions) you will need:
A big sautee pan
A wooden spoon
1 big aubergine or 2 small cut in small pieces
3 medium courgettes or 4 small cut in small pieces
1 red and 1 yellow pepper
Red onions (pending on their size it can be two small or 1 big) cut in thin slices
1 can chopped tomatoes (or if you have time in front of you 5 ripped peeled deseeded tomatoes. To achieve this you will need to plunge the tomatoes into boiling water for a couple of minutes to soften the skin then peel and deseed them. Cut them in small pieces.)
Thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, fresh oregano attached together to make a bouquet garni
2 aniseed stars
1/4 tsp of coriander
Salt and pepper
2 garlic gloves crushed
Black pitted olives (optional)
4 eggs (organic preferably)
A pinch of paprika or piment d’espelette
First turn the oven on grill position mark 200 C to grill the peppers.
Cut them in twos, deseed them and place them under the grill skin side up. The skin should burn. Once the skin is bubbling and dark, remove the peppers from the oven and peel off the skin which should come out easily. If not place them in a plastic box, close the lid and wait for few minutes. The steam should help soften the skin.
Once the peppers are peeled cut them in small pieces and put them aside.
Heat a good lug of Olive oil in a large sautee pan and then place the aubergine cut in small pieces. In high heat cook the aubergine until they are slightly grilled and then turn the heat down to soften them. Aubergine is a vegetable that absorb Olive oil so do not be afraid to add more if necessary.
Once the vegetables are soften add the red onions and cook a little longer until the red onions are soften then add the garlic gloves crushed, courgettes, a pinch of salt, pepper, coriander. Stir the vegetables and cook them for an other 5 minutes. Then finally add the can chopped tomatoes, the aniseed star, the bouquet garni and black olives.
Add a bit of water by using your empty can but no more than a 1/3 of the can then cook on a very low heat until the vegetables are melted.
At this point you can freeze it for an other day. However make sure you thaw it and reheat it very slowly before cracking the eggs and cook them.
Once the ratatouille is ready form four holes in it and crack the 4 eggs. Try to separate them from one an other and turn a heat up but not too much. The eggs are cooked when the white is not translucid anymore and the yolk looks firm on the edge but not in the middle. It should have the same aspect than if you were cooking a fried egg. To be honest I like my yolk a bit runny in the middle with the white well cooked but it is up to you how you like it. Sprinkle some paprika on each yolk as a final touch.
This main dish can be served with some plain couscous that you can prepare while the eggs are cooking.
You will need
350g of couscous
A bit of Olive oil
Place the couscous in a serving bowl, pour some olive oil and with a fork mix everything.
Pour the boiling water until it covers the couscous up til half a centimetre above the couscous. Cover with a lid until the couscous absorbed all the water. After 3mn it should be ok; if not leave it a bit longer. With a fork break the couscous.
On a plate place some couscous and then on top some ratatouille making sure you take one of the eggs with it and enjoy!!!!!
To be honest each time I cook this dish I feel on holiday!
An other alternative is forget the eggs and serve the ratatouille as a side dish (plus the couscous) with some lambs chops that you spread with mustard and thyme then grilled on a summer evening over a BBQ! AWESOME!