Ratatouille is the quintessential late-summer dish. Not only does it make short work of extra produce, but it fills your kitchen with such a comforting and homey aroma that you might never want to leave!
This isn't exactly a quick weeknight recipe, but you can make a lot at once by doubling or tripling the recipe. Then you can eat leftovers the rest of the week or freeze 'em for later. If you're short on time, you can cut out the roasting steps - though it won't have the same smoky depth, your ratatouille will still be delicious.
You can also simmer the ratatouille for as long as you want. If you like chunky vegetables, shorten the cooking time. The longer you cook, the more the vegetables will start to break down and combine into a luscious, silky stew.
Serves 4 - 6
Total prep and cooking time: about 2 hours
2 medium eggplants, cut into 1" cubes 3 medium zucchini or other summer squash, cut into 1" cubes 2 Tablespoon olive oil 2 onions, diced 2 sweet bell peppers, roughly chopped* 4 - 6 cloves of garlic, minced 2 - 3 large tomatoes, peeled and roughly chopped, juices reserved* 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme 1 bay leaf 2 Tablespoons fresh basil salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 450-degrees Fahrenheit.
Salt the eggplant cubes and set them in a colander to release their liquid for at least 30 minutes. Rinse off the salt and press the cubes against the counter top between two clean kitchen towels to get out as much moisture as possible.
Combine the eggplant with the zucchini and toss with 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil. Arrange the cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet (use two sheets if necessary), and roast them in the oven. Roast for a total of 30 - 40 minutes, stirring the cubes every 10 minutes, until the eggplant has completely softened. Remove trays and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat one tablespoon of oil in a dutch oven or deep sauce pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and a pinch of salt, and saute until the onion is completely translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the bell peppers and a pinch of salt, and saute until no longer crisp, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the thyme, bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of salt, and the tomatoes with all their juices into the pot and stir to combine. Simmer for about 5 minutes until the tomatoes have started to break down.
Add the roasted eggplant and zucchini to the pot along with another teaspoon of salt, and simmer until the tomatoes and eggplant have almost completely broken down into a pulpy sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. At this point, you can serve immediately or allow to simmer until the vegetables have completely broken down.
Remove the pot from heat and stir in the basil. Serve hot or room temperature with a drizzle of good olive oil and an extra sprinkling of fresh basil.