This is a Southern take on a healthy, classic French summer dish. The addition of bacon and a fried egg provides a nice richness and protein. Instead of the traditional kinds of zucchini and eggplant used, head to your local farmers market and see if you can find some unusual varieties to experiment with. The summer is the perfect time to do so. If you are in the Raleigh area, the NC State Farmers Market is bursting with tomatoes, squash, and eggplant. There are multiple varieties that come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors. Grace and I went shopping there yesterday, which is where the inspiration for this dish came from. Enjoy!
2 slices thick-cut, best quality bacon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 long slender eggplant such as Japanese or Machiaw, sliced thick, tossed in salt for a few minutes then rinsed
1 zucchini or similar squash such as Mediterranean or Gold Bar, cubed
6 small tender okra, sliced thick
2 large, ripe, heirloom tomatoes, quartered
2 sprigs thyme, stripped
4 leaves purple basil, sliced thin, plus more for garnish
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese savings
French bread sliced and toasted for dipping
- In a medium skillet, cook the bacon on medium high heat, and then drain on paper towels. Once cooled, loosely chop.
- To the same skillet, add 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and sauté the garlic for 3-5 minutes until fragrant and translucent on medium heat.
- To the same pan, add another tablespoon of olive oil and add the eggplant.
- Once eggplant starts to soften, add the zucchini or squash of choice then the okra. Sauté the vegetables for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Once the vegetables are cooked but still tender, add the bacon, tomatoes, sherry vinegar, basil and thyme. Turn the heat up to let the tomatoes melt and form a thin sauce. Cook for a few minutes until sauce has reduced a bit.
- Set ratatouille aside and fry 4 eggs, preferably over easy and in some bacon fat or butter.
- Divide the ratatouille between two large plates. Top each with the fried eggs and garnish with Parmesan shavings and fresh basil.
- Serve with sliced French bread.