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Author Notes: I love ratatouille but sometimes find it too lightweight on its own. When I have added tomato paste, it has lost the freshness of the vegetables. So this is the method I came up with to boost the raratouille without losing its essential veggieness: the addition of the deepening flavours of chilli pepper (I put in about a tablespoonful of a fine chop and let it cook for quite a while) a cup of good red wine and anchovies. The polenta galettes add crunch and the small poached eggs somehow bring it all together in a dish more substantial than its parts. —nogaga
- Olive Oil
- 3 medium sized white onions, peeled and chopped, reserve the skins
- 1 medium sized eggplant
- 5 small zucchini, chopped, reserving top and bottom
- 5 small tomatoes, topped, bottomed and chopped, reserve the juices and the tops and bottoms
- 4 cloves garlic, 3 chopped, one mashed
- 3 red banana peppers, chopped and without membranes
- 1 chilli pepper
- 1 cup fine red wine
- 1 cup rough cut organic polenta
- 3 cups home-made light broth
- 4 quail eggs
- a few sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 sprig parsley
- salt, pepper
- optional: fresh fava beans for garnish
- Chop the onions, three cloves of garlic, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers and as much of the chilli pepper as you want. Heat enough olive oil to cover the base of a medium-sized, cast iron pot, and start to heat the onions and chopped garlic till soft.
- Meanwhile, place the onion tops and bottoms and skins, tomato and zucchini tops and bottoms and the single mashed clove of garlic, along with sprig of thyme and a spirg of parsely in another, smaller pot. Cover that pot with water and bring to a soft boil to create a light broth.
- Making sure you have enough olive oil in your pot, add the chopped eggplant, tomatoes (and their juice,) zucchini and peppers to the onion mix. Stir well and keep heating over a medium-low heat to allow flavours to meld. Add bay leaf and salt and pepper to taste.
- While the ratatouille vegetables continue to cook, strain your vegetable broth, leaving three cups of strained liquid in the smaller pot. Whisk the polenta in and keep whisking of a low but steady boil until it is formed and flavorful, about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper.
- While making the polenta, keep mixing your ratatouille. Add about a teaspoon and a half of minced thyme. Add the cup of (good!) red wine to the ratatouille just before it is ready and mix until it is absorbed into the vegetables.
- Remove both pots from heat when they are ready, and replace with a cast iron skillet and a wide-mouthed pot. Lightly cover the base of the skillet with olive oil. Once it sizzles, in one or two batches, gently dump four heaping soupspoons of polenta to form the galettes. Cover with mesh guard! This takes a little longer to cook up than what one might expect, about ten minutes. When crisp, gently flip and cook till second side is firm and golden.
- While galettes are forming, gently place the shelled 4 quail eggs in barely simmering water. Keep a slotted spoon handy as they are done in uner two minutes. Remove them to bowl with chilled water so the yolks don't harden.
- If you have a few fava beans handy, shell them and boil them for about five minutes in the leftover salted quail egg water.
- Plate the ratatouille. Place two galettes on each mound, place an anchovy on each galette and a quail egg on top of that. Gently spinkle the fava beans on top, if you wish.