My inspiration for this recipe comes from two distinct places.
1. Bread. I love bread. I love good bread. I do not have a large family and when dealing with really good bread from a good bakery you have a small window of time in which to eat the bread. 2 days, maybe 3 and its time to make croutons. I wanted to make recipe that makes meal out of beautiful bread.
2. RATATOUILLE! Clearly the title of this post gives away my second reason. The first time I met Ratatouille, I was introduced by Chef Eric Leroy. Eric was the Chef and Owner of Toutatis in Oakland California. It was my very first restaurant job. A true gem. Eric was from Toulouse France and cooked Brittany style galettes (savory crepes made from buckwheat flour) and sweet crepes. I was the second person in a two man kitchen. Eric cooked family recipes, one of which was ratatouille. The galette was called La Baline. It had melted gruyere cheese and a sunny up egg, the crispy buckwheat flower galette was folded into a triangle, brushed with butter and toped with ratatouille. Ratatouille to the likes I have never seen done better. It was more of a stew, not badly chopped up sad looking vegetables (look up ratatouille images on google to see what I mean). I do my best to recreate what I saw so many years ago, but all I have is my memories to work from. I owe so much of what I know about cooking to Eric.
This dish is worthy of being served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The ratatouille takes a little time, but its well worth the effort. Its perfectly in season in the South right now.
Yields 4 cups
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely diced
2 small bell peppers* (around 1 cup) deseeded finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large eggplant, small diced
1 zucchini (around 1 ½ cups), small diced
2 cups fresh tomatoes, small diced
1 ½ cups tomato juice
½ teaspoon paprika
1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
In a large, heavy bottomed sauté pan heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium- low heat. Add in onion and sweat down for two minutes. Add in bell peppers. Saute for 4-5 minutes until fully sweated down, being careful not to brown. Add in garlic and sauté 1 more minute. Remove onion mix from the pan and set aside in a bowl. Place the pan over medium heat and add 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Add in eggplant. Make sure the pan is large enough for the eggplant to be a single layer on the bottom of the pan. Sauté for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in zucchini and sauté 5 minutes. Add in tomatoes. Sauté for 2 minutes. Add in tomato juice, paprika, salt, and thyme. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 20 minutes.Can be cooled and said for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner Ratatouille For One
1 thick slice of bread
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 basil leaf torn
Ratatouille, as much or as little as you like
In a pan heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add slice of bread. Heat until golden brown, flip and repeat. Set aside on a plate. Heat cast iron pan or non stick pan over medium low heat with ½ tablespoon olive oil. Add egg and cook to sunny up, around 4 minuets.
To plate spoon warmed ratatouille over bread. Top with sunny up egg and torn basil. Finish with a little drizzle of olive oil.