I love the movie Ratatoille. A good animated movie has the ability to tap into your most basic and child-like emotions. Every time I see a recipe for ratatouille I think of the movie and want to make it. It makes me to feel like a child wanting one of those Happy Meal toys. The differentiating factor between “adult” movies and “kids” movies is a matter of expectations. You go in to a kid’s movie with a simpler expectation and it leaves your more accepting of what you see and hear. Many kids movies are much like great writing, simple and clear without trying to be more than it is.
Ratatouille niçoise is an exceedingly simple dish. It is a stewed mixture of eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, garlic, onions, and spices. The dish is rustic, but like most French cuisine it is not sloppy in any way; the preparation is deliberate and precise. The goal is to prepare and combine the vegetables in a way that makes the flavor of each shine through but also work together with all of the rest. A bad version leaves you with a big pile of mushy vegetables that all just blend together and taste of nothing in particular. In kid’s terms it’s like the “swamp water” you get from mixing up a bunch of pop flavors. All the flavors are there, you just can’t tell what they are.
This version is by Gordon Ramsay (the film’s version was designed by chef Thomas Keller) and is quick and straightforward, much as I would expect the original French version to be. An egg is cracked over the top of each portion and then baked until the egg is perfectly cooked. The contrasting flavor of the egg against the fragrant ratatouille is an ideal pairing. Undeterred by rustic roots, the dish tastes luxurious with the richness of the egg yolk elevating the aromatic vegetables.
Do you have a favorite movie that is aimed toward children but evokes deep emotions in you? What does it stir up in you?
Baked Eggs with Ratatoille – Recipe
Based on the recipe from Healthy Appetite
1 large red onion, peeled
1 small eggplant, trimmed
1 large red bell pepper, halved, cored, and seeded
1 large green bell pepper, halved, cored, and seeded
1 medium zucchini, trimmed
3-4 tbsp olive oil
sea salt and pepper
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1/4-1/2 tsp mild chili powder (the Indian kind, not the American – if you don’t have this you can sub cayenne)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
8oz canned chopped tomatoes
4 large eggs
Whole wheat toasts on the side
- Heat the over to 425F
- Chop the onion, eggplant, peppers, and zucchini into 1/2″ cubes and keep them separated.
- Put a large non-stick skillet over high heat and add the olive oil. When hot, but not smoking, add the onion and a little seasoning and saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the eggplant, peppers, and garlic and cook for another minute.
- Add the zucchini and saute for another minute or two.
- Sprinkle over the spices and tip in the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook for 8-10 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Mine got a little dry so I added a half cup of water to keep it moist.
- Gather 4 ovenproof dishes and divide the ratatouille among them. Make a small indent in the centre of each and crack an egg into it. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over each dish.
- Place the dishes on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny in the middle. Mine took 10 minutes and then to help set the egg I turned it to broil for a minute. Serve immediately with some great local wholewheat sourdough.
Savory Eggs Series
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