With eggplants of every size and shape at the markets, as well as more than a few chilly evenings under our belts, I’ve been dreaming of a hearty, chunky ratatouille. But like most adults and children alike, I’ve also wanted to try the Ratatouille movie version of ratatouille, with paper thin slices of eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and summer squash layered into a fresh tomato sauce. The dish is known as Confit Byaldi, and with a relatively approachable New York Times version of the recipe in my hungry hands, I was ready to get slicing.
Until… my husband and I enjoyed a magical dinner at Corner Table Restaurant last week, with ratatouille as thick and rich as an August afternoon, glowing under the sunshine of a gently poached egg. Confit Byaldi was quickly forgotten and a traditional ratatouille was back on my mind (sorry Remy). Topped with a poached egg, of course! I may never want ratatouille without it again and neither will you.
Photo by Stephanie Meyer
Ratatouille with a Poached Egg
Adapted from The Best Recipes Soups & Stews by the editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine
Note: The eggplant in this recipe is roasted instead of stewed, which produces a lovely texture and intensified flavor.
2 medium globe eggplants (2-2 1/2 lbs. total), cut into 1-inch dice
2 zucchini (about 1 1/2 lbs. total), cut into 1-inch dice
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
1 small green pepper, cut into 1-inch dice
1 large onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
3 medium ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, and cut into 2-inch pieces
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley leaves
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil leaves
1 Tbsp. minced fresh thyme leaves
Ground black pepper
organic eggs for poaching (one for each serving)
Place the eggplant in a large colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle the eggplant with 2 tsp. salt and toss to distribute the salt evenly. Let the eggplant stand for at least 1 hour and preferably 2-3 hours. Rinse the eggplant well to remove the salt and place on a triple thickness of paper towels. Cover with another triple layer of towels and press firmly.
Adjust the oven racks to the upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 500 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Toss the eggplant and zucchini with 2 Tbsp. oil in a large bowl. Divide the mixed vegetables between the two baking sheets and season liberally with salt. Place the baking sheets in the oven and roast the vegetables, stirring every 10 minutes, until the eggplant and zucchini are well-browned and very tender, 30-40 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil over medium heat. Add the green pepper and onion, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring often, until the onion is golden and the peppers and onion are very soft, 15-20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook until their juices are released and tomatoes begin to break down, about 5 minutes.
Add the reserved eggplant and zucchini to the pot, stirring gently but thoroughly to coat until the vegetables are reheated. Add the parsley, basil, and thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper. (Ratatouille can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Warm over medium-low heat.)
Keep warm while you poach the eggs:
While the ratatouille simmers, fill a large saucepan half full of water. Set over high heat and bring the water to a boil. Turn heat down so that the water is barely simmering—small bubbles should barely break the surface. Crack one egg into a small dish and slide it into the water. Quickly do the same with up to another two eggs. (If serving more than three, poach eggs in two batches.) Set the timer for 3 minutes. (The eggs whites will look shredded, but that’s OK, they come together when you lift the cooked egg from the water.)
While the eggs cook, ladle servings of ratatouille into shallow bowls. When the timer goes off, use a slotted spoon to scoop one egg out of the water. Tilt the spoon so the water drains completely off, then place the egg on top of one of the bowls of ratatouille. Repeat with the other eggs. Drizzle a little olive oil over the dish. Top eggs with a sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of black pepper each. Serve immediately.