I love the bright colors of a good ratatouille, it really makes eating your veggies so much easier. Ratatouille is one of my newer favorite recipes that I have started eating the past few years, and yes I will admit that it is partially inspired by the movie of the same name. I mean really, who doesn't love a cooking rat? I especially love making this after a trip to a farmers market. Having vine ripe, fresh ingredients really makes a difference.
One reason also why I am sharing this recipe is because I am trying to do the "Meatless Mondays". I really don't eat much red meat, but I do eat a ton of fish and chicken, so I figure a vegetarian day would probably be good for me. This is also a great recipe for a budget conscious cook, since it is a nice and affordable meal to make. Some people bake their ratatouille in the oven, I usually just make mine stove top in my Le Creuset Dutch oven (one of my favorite kitchen items ever)!
2 1/2 lb tomatoes
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
20 fresh basil leaves, torn in half
1 cup olive oil
2 lb eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 1/4 teaspoons salt
2 large onions, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
3 assorted bell peppers cut into 1-inch pieces
4 medium zucchini cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick pieces
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Blanch tomatoes together in a pot of boiling water 1 minute. Coarsely chop tomatoes and transfer to a 5-quart heavy pot with garlic, parsley, basil, and 1/3 cup oil. Simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes break down and sauce is slightly thickened, about 30 minutes.
While sauce is simmering, toss eggplant with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large colander and let stand in sink 30 minutes. This will soften the eggplant
Cook onions in 3 tablespoons oil with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer onions with a slotted spoon to a large bowl, then add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook bell peppers with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 10 minutes. Transfer peppers with slotted spoon to bowl with onions. Add 3 tablespoons oil to skillet and cook zucchini with 1/4 teaspoon salt over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until just tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer zucchini with slotted spoon to bowl with other vegetables.
While zucchini are cooking, pat eggplant dry with paper towels. Add remaining oil (about 1/4 cup) to skillet and cook eggplant over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 10 to12 minutes.
Add vegetables, remaining teaspoon salt, and black pepper to tomato sauce and simmer, covered, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender, about 1 hour. Cool, uncovered, and serve warm or at room temperature.