Um, so yeah, where were we? Not blogging, or even cooking, that's for sure.
In the past four weeks, I criss-crossed the country, racking up 5900 miles driving between St. Louis and North Carolina and back (for a day); St. Louis and the Texas Hill Country (hauling a furniture-filled U-Haul, a four-hundred pound rock and an after-wedding brunch for 25) and back (for two days); then St. Louis and northern Minnesota and back (for two days). Yikes. As if that weren't enough? Then we packed up eleven of us for a week in the hot sun and cool waves of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Twas all good but no surprise, right? I-Am-So-Ready-to-Be-Home.
And food-wise? Starved for vegetables! It's hard to get enough vegetables on the road. Salads are mostly insipid, side vegetables are just a few bites big and let's be real, who eats vegetables when cabana boys deliver pina coladas all day long?
This easy vegetable-packed egg dish was "dinner" our first night back from Mexico. I'd planned to top the ratatouille with salmon but ooops, somebody forgot to stop for salmon. Really and truly? The runny eggs atop the ratatouille vegetables were ever so delicious and way cheaper too.
Frosty pineapple-coconut cocktails? You've got real competition.
RECIPE for BAKED EGGS with RATATOUILLE VEGETABLES
Time to table: 45 minutes
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small to medium red onion, diced or chopped
1 medium eggplant, skin on, diced or chopped
1 zucchini, diced or chopped
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, diced or chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 yellow or red or orange bell pepper, sliced in four rings, the remainder diced or chopped
1 large tomato, puréed in a mini food processor
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives
Juice of a lemon, about 2 tablespoons
Salt & pepper to taste
Four bell pepper rings
4 large eggs
Salt & pepper to taste
Fresh herbs, chive was excellent
RATATOUILLE In a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat until shimmery. Drop in the onion, eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms, garlic and bell pepper (just the diced or chopped parts, save the rings for later) as they're prepped, stir often, it's okay to let a little color develop but you don't want to cook the vegetables to death, either. Add the puréed tomato, let simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still have a little bite: no mush here, okay? Stir in the olives and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
EGGS Arrange the four pepper rings in the skillet. Slip an egg into each ring, season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and let the ratatouille simmer until the eggs reach the desired doneness, avoid peeking for at least a couple of minutes. To serve, sprinkle with fresh herbs.
MAKE-AHEAD TIP Make the ratatouille ahead of time, either a few hours or even a day ahead. Heat it through again before continuing with the eggs.
LEFTOVER REPORT Call me surprised but the leftovers microwaved beautifully the next day, although the eggs weren't runny anymore, of course.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
DICED OR CHOPPED? Your choice. If you dice the vegetables small, the ratatouille will cook a little bit faster and will become slightly more sauce-like but no one vegetable will stand out. If you chop the vegetables into big pieces, then you can really identify by taste and texture the individual vegetables. "Chopped" is usually my choice.
SALT & SALT & SALT When chefs cook for me for my column for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, I keep my brain tuned to new tips and techniques. One works really well: add a sprinkle of salt, just a touch, every time you add another vegetable – it's especially good for ratatouille because ratatouille vegetables seem to be especially hungry for salt, more than you'd think, also a good measure of freshly ground pepper. So season the vegetables all along, and then again at the end, after adding the lemon juice and tasting.
FROZEN GARLIC CLOVES I've started buying large containers of pre-peeled garlic cloves, then freezing them in small jars to pull out cloves one or two or four at a time. It works great! For St. Louisans, I find pre-peeled garlic at Global Foods in Kirkwood. I've also purchased small plastic bags of pre-peeled at Trader Joe's – expensive and not great quality – and think I remember reading that Costco sells garlic cloves this way too.
WHY PURÉE THE TOMATO? It turns the tomato into a tomato-y broth, great for distributing tomato flavor and liquid. If your tomato is especially juicy, it's just fine to simply dice or chop the tomato too. You could also grate the tomato on the large holes of a cheese grater, that technique leaves the skins (aka good vegetable fiber) behind.
BELL PEPPER RINGS The rings are 50% show business (color and shape) and 50% function (containing the eggs).
NO LEMON JUICE? No problem, just substitute another acid like vinegar.
Once you do, new recipes will be automatically delivered straight to your e-mail In Box.
WHO ELSE COLLECTS FAVORITE EGG RECIPES?
~ Baked Eggs in Cream with Spinach ~
~ Creamed Eggs with Spinach ~
~ Toad in a Pattypan Hole ~
~ How to Cook Eggs in a Coffee Cup in the Microwave ~
~ more breakfast recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Gashouse Eggs ~
~ Mexican Gas House Eggs ~
~ Shakshuka (Eggs Nested in Summer Vegetables) ~
~ How to Poach a Perfect Egg ~
~ more recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2015