It’s mid-summer and the garden is really putting out all of my favorites, zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplants to name a few. If you’ve been following along you know I love ratatouille in its many incarnations; Ratatouille, Ratatouille Panini, Ratatouille Napoleon (so far my favorite) and now I present:
Ratatouille Shakshuka – is a simple dish of eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce. Shakshuka has origins in the Mideast (Tunisia?) and with many different cultural variations it seems perfect to adapt the recipe to ratatouille ingredients instead of only tomatoes, onions and garlic.
With this in mind and fresh ingredients on hand, I decided to make a ratatouille with eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash diced very small and simmered in a thick rich tomato sauce, a robust poaching medium for eggs.
This takes a little prep time – mostly dicing the vegetables – also be sure to cook the leeks separately so that they can caramelize, which adds a depth a flavor the dish would not have if all the vegetables were cooked together.
Once the vegetables are cooked, you can refrigerate them for a day or two and finish the dish later.
You have a couple choices how to cook the eggs – one is to cook them on the stovetop – covering the dish after adding the eggs will speed their cooking or you can finish the dish in a hot oven. I chose the second technique.
2 cups (500 ml) diced small (1/2” or 1 cm) Zucchini or yellow squash or a combination of the two
2 cups (500 ml) diced very small (1/2” or 1 cm) eggplant
2 cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) salt
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil divided – you’ll need 3 tablespoons total but not all at once (need not be extra virgin olive oil)
2 plum diced tomatoes (about 1-1/2 cups or 375 ml)
1-1/2 teaspoons (7 ml) Herbs de Provence
1 cup (250 ml) sliced (1/2” or 1 cm) leeks ( or onions) – be sure to rinse and drain the leeks, they can be gritty
1-28 ounce can (800 gm) whole peeled plum tomatoes. San Marzano if you can get them.
1/4 cup (60 ml) red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
- In a cast iron skillet or heavy sauté pan over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon (15 ml) oil until hot
- Add diced zucchini / yellow squash and eggplant
- Add 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) salt
- Cook, stirring often until vegetables start to soften
- Add diced tomatoes and garlic, stir to combine
- Reduce heat to medium low and cook, stirring often until vegetables are very soft – about 15 minutes
- Add Herbs de Provence, crushing them as you add them – this releases aromatic oils
- Stir to incorporate, remove cooked vegetables to a bowl and set aide
- In the same pan, adjust heat to medium heat and add a tablespoon of olive oil
- Add sliced leeks (or onions) and cook gently until very tender and starting to brown – about 20 minutes. They need not be completely caramelized but you can if you want
- Remove leeks (or onions) from heat, and add to the reserved cooked vegetables
- Preheat oven to 350° F (180° C, Gas Mark 4)
- In the same pan over medium heat, add last tablespoon of olive oil and the canned tomatoes
- *Optional – rinse can with 1/4 cup red wine and add to the pan
- Crush tomatoes with a fork or spoon until they are broken up
- Add reserved cooked vegetables and stir to combine.
- Add enough reserved tomato juice to thin mixture to a thick soup consistency
- Check seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed
- Stir and cook bringing tomato vegetable mixture to a gentle simmer
- Using a spoon, make small wells in the mixture
- Crack eggs into vegetable mixture and poach until you start to see the egg whites start to set
- Put pan into hot oven and cook, checking frequently until egg white are completely set – about 5 minutes
- Remove pan from oven and spoon an egg and some vegetable mixture into a bowl.
At this point you can let all the vegetables cool to room temperature then put them in a container in the fridge for a day or two and finish the dish another time. Or….
Serve with flatbread (or a crusty loaf) to mop up the delicious sauce.
A Sauvignon Blanc would pair nicely with this acidic dish.
If you look closely you can see I overcooked the eggs just a bit. Not the texture I was going for, but delicious nonetheless. Next time I make it I will poach the eggs on the stove top and cover briefly to help set the egg whites.
Make use of the seasons’ bounty. It’ll be winter before you know it.
Until next time, Eat Well & Keep Digging!