Summer vegetable perfection...
It could even be your main if you're willing.
Paris well with rice pilaf or couscous, and it even has potential with pasta.
Ratatouille recipes are fairly similar, and I think it must be because of their ingredients and simplicity. However, they're certainly not all the same.
The cooking time, herbs, and well techniques seem to vary (roast, simmer, fry, separate, all-at-once... stovetop, oven).
One thing I found interesting (upon going through all my ratatouille recipes recently), was that the vegetables better maintain their own characters if they are pre-cooked separately before being all simmered together in one pot.
Eggplant becomes more bitter the larger it gets- just remember that.
It's also important to remember that eggplant will act like a sponge and soaks up the oil very quickly. This is why I do it in two batches as the eggplant will soak up the oil and cook more evenly in a single layer.
Generally, whole canned tomatoes will be of better quality than those in bits and pieces. Those with blemishes are the ones cut up and sold as "diced" tomatoes...
Adapted from Michel Richard, Jol Robuchon, and Fran Warde
8 T olive oil
2 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 medium to large zucchini (or about 5 small), ends removed, cut in half lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2 inch half-moons
2 medium yellow onions, cut into 1 inch dice
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced into 1 inch pieces.
1 orange or yellow bell pepper , seeded and sliced into 1 inch pieces
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz can good-quality tomatoes in juice, drained and chopped with 1/2 c of the tomato juice reserved
1 t fresh thyme leaves, minced
3/4 t dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper
Optional: minced fresh parsley for garnish
Heat 2 T olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add half the prepared eggplant in a single layer, sprinkle with salt, toss often and saute until a bit golden. Set aside in a large bowl and repeat with another 2 T olive oil and the rest of the eggplant. Heat another 2 T olive oil in the same skillet and add the zucchini. Sprinkle with salt and saute until golden. Remove the zucchini to the bowl with the eggplant. Add another 1 T olive oil to the pan along with the onion and sprinkle with salt. Once again, saute until a bit golden and add to the other vegetables. Finally, add the last 1 T of olive oil, reduce the heat to medium-low and saute the bell peppers together with a liberal sprinkling of salt. Roast until golden and add to a large pan with all the other partially-cooked vegetables.
To this pan, add the chopped tomatoes and reserved 1/2 cup tomato juice, minced garlic, thyme, oregano, and several good grinds of fresh black pepper. Simmer uncovered over low heat about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Taste and season as necessary.
Serve warm and sprinkled with fresh minced parsley if desired.
Tip: The flavor improves if made the day ahead.