Ratatouille is one of the world’s great vegetable dishes. It’s a brightly flavoured rustic dish of stewed vegetables that traces its roots to the sunny south of France. It’s simple to make—and simple to vary—and usually includes tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, eggplant and zucchini slowly cooked together with olive oil.
1 eggplant, cut into 1-inch chunks
a few zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeds removed, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks
a few onions, sliced
4 or 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
several garden ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
a bay leaf
a few sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
a sprinkle or two sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 or 2 bunches fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Begin by sautéing the eggplant and zucchini in a large skillet over high heat with a splash or two of olive oil. Continue cooking, stirring and tossing, until the vegetables are golden brown and tender, 10 minutes or so. Set these vegetables aside in a bowl.
Turn the heat down a bit and continue with another splash or two of olive oil and the bell peppers, cooking them just until they’re tender, another 5 minutes or so. Add them to the first batch of reserved vegetables.
Next, sauté the onions with another splash of olive oil until they soften a bit. Add the garlic and continue for another few minutes.
Lower the heat. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf and thyme and simmer until the mixture thickens, another 10 minutes or so. Break up the whole tomatoes into smaller pieces.
Add the reserved vegetables and season the works with salt and pepper. Simmer until everything is heated through.
Stir in the fresh basil and balsamic vinegar and serve immediately.