dinner party main course
This is the final recipe from our dinner party with Karen and Bob. As with the other recipes, I found this in a food magazine, this time from the February issue of Food & Wine.
The changes I made; two large onions seemed like too much, I decreased it to one. The recipe was called Ratatouille Toasts with Fried Eggs, it is now Ratatouille Toasts with Poached Eggs. Poached eggs are easier and able to be done ahead, a huge bonus when entertaining.
To do so; poach your eggs as normal, but under-cook them slightly. About 30 seconds off of your normal cooking time should do the trick. Just make sure the whites are nearly set. Lift the eggs directly out of the simmering water and into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Then place them into the refrigerator until you need them.
When you’re ready to serve, bring a pot of water to a gentle simmer and give your eggs a final 45 seconds of poaching. Because the whites are already set, you can heat several eggs at once without worrying that they will stick together. This takes much less time than poaching all the eggs at the last minute.
I usually poach the eggs the night before or the morning of a dinner or brunch. In the recipe below, I have instructions as if you are going to serve the eggs immediately, just in case that is how you would prefer to do it. Use the instructions above for making ahead.
Ratatouille Toasts with Poached Eggs
3/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
3 medium tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
5 garlic cloves
1 1/4 teaspoons crushed red pepper
12-ounce eggplant, seeds cut out and flesh cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice (2 cups)
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 bay leaf
1 cup chopped basil, plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon white vinegar
4 large eggs
Four 1/2-inch-thick slices of sourdough bread, toasted
In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the tomatoes, 1 garlic clove and 1/4 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper and season with salt. Cook the tomatoes over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just softened, about 5 minutes. Scrape the tomatoes into a medium saucepan and discard the garlic clove. Wipe out the skillet.
Repeat with the eggplant, zucchini, onions and red bell pepper, cooking each vegetable separately in 2 tablespoons of oil with 1 garlic clove, 1/4 teaspoon of crushed red pepper and a generous pinch of salt until just tender and lightly browned, about 7 minutes per vegetable. Add the cooked vegetables to the tomatoes in the saucepan.
Add the bay leaf, 1/2 cup of the basil and 1/3 cup of water to the saucepan with the vegetables. Cover and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Discard the bay leaf and stir in the remaining 1/2 cup of basil. Season the ratatouille with salt and pepper and let cool slightly.
Bring a medium saucepan 3/4-full of water to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to low and bring the water back down to a low simmer. There should just be a few bubbles hitting the surface.
Add 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to the water. Crack the eggs, one at a time into a measuring cup or a small teacup.
Use a wooden to swirl the water, making a sort of whirlpool, then slowly lower the cup into the barely simmering water, and tip the egg out into the water. Quickly repeat with remaining 3 eggs, this will make compact poached eggs, instead of eggs that are spread out.
Set the timer for 3 minutes. Keep an eye on the water’s heat; make sure it doesn’t come back up to a full rolling boil.
Remove the eggs with the slotted spoon. Place it on the plate lined with a paper towel and gently blot it dry.
To serve, spoon the ratatouille onto the toasts and top with the eggs. Drizzle with olive oil and chopped basil and serve.
Note: Not only can the eggs be made ahead, so can the ratatouille. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.