4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 sweet onions, halved and sliced
1 ea. green and yellow bell peppers, cored and cut into thin strips
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 eggplant (about 1 lb.) peeled and diced
2 zucchini (about 1 lb.) peeled and diced
2 lbs. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced or 4 lbs. canned tomatoes, drained and diced
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
4 sprigs fresh parsley for garnish
Bouquet Garni: Tie 4-5 sprigs parsley, 1 bay leaf, 2-3 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 sprig rosemary with white kitchen string..
1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and peppers; cook until softened but not browned, about 4 minutes.
2. Stir in garlic and cook several minutes. Add the eggplant and zucchini. Cover and cook gently over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. The vegetables should be partially cooked and there should be some liquid in the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the tomatoes and bouquet garni; season with salt and pepper. Simmer gently uncovered over low heat 35-45 minutes or until the vegetables are soft; stir occasionally.
4. The liquid in the pan should have reduced to a syrupy sauce. Remove bouquet garni. Over high heat, reduce any remaining liquid to a sauce-like consistency. Add more salt and pepper to taste.
If the tomatoes used were not red or flavorful enough, add the tomato paste.
To serve: Place ratatouille in an ovenproof dish and heat in a 350 degree oven and heat until bubbling, about 15-20 minutes.
Serving suggestions: Ratatouille is an extremely versatile dish. It can be served hot as a vegetable accompanying roasted or grilled meats, or served chilled or at room temperature as a first course or on toasted baguette slices as an hors d'oeuvre. It can be used to fill crepes or omelets, or mixed with scrambled eggs. Sprinkled with grated Swiss or Parmesan cheese and reheated under a broiler, it becomes a delicious au gratin.