For this version of the classic Provencal vegetable stew, you slice the vegetables into similar-sized strips, cook them briefly individually, and then layer them together for a final slow cooking. This can be served either hot or cold.
- Cut the eggplant and the zucchini into even strips, about 3 inches long and 3/8 inches wide. Sprinkle with salt and let them sweat for about 20 minutes.
- Dry the sliced eggplant and then the zucchini strips and saute in hot olive oil until lightly browned on all sides. Remove them to a side dish as they are finished.
- Saute the sliced onions and peppers for about 10 minutes, until tender but not browned.
- Add the crushed garlic and season to taste.
- Slice the tomatoes into strips and add to the onions and peppers Cover and cook for about 5 minutes over low heat.
- Stir up the juices rendered from the tomatoes and baste the tomatoes, peppers, and onions with it. Then turn up the heat and boil off most of the liquid.
- In a clean Dutch oven, add in layers the tomato mixture, then some of the parsley, then the eggplant and zucchini, and repeat until everything is in the pot, with a final layer of tomato mixture and parsley on top.
- Simmer covered over low heat for 10 minutes, check to see if it needs salt or pepper, then cook uncovered for about 15 minutes more, until there is almost no liquid left at the bottom of the Dutch oven. Be careful not to let the vegetables on the bottom burn.
- Serve hot or let it cool and then refrigerate it for later. It can be served hot or cold.
I like to include one red bell pepper in place of one green bell pepper for color.
I used canned peeled tomatoes instead of the original recipe's requirement for blanching, peeling, and seeding the tomatoes because it's easier, and because I can only get good fresh tomatoes during a short period here in Massachusetts, while the ones in the can are always ripe.
You may see online recipes for a visually spectacular ratatouille with the vegetables sliced in even rounds and arrayed in a spiral or in concentric circles. This doesn't work out so well unless you have an infinite number of the vegetables so you can get everything of the same diameter, and it's messier than you would expect arranging cooked vegetables in the pan that way, but you have to precook them to get them all to the desired level of doneness. File that one under "looks good on paper".
Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Simone Beck, Louisette Bertholle, and Julia Child