Ratatouille is a traditional Provencal and Languedoc dish. It as cousins in many countries. Traditionally all of the vegetables are cooked separately then combined at the end for a final cook. This is a main dish, but can be used as a side dish.
Serves 4-6 for a main
4 zucchinis (firm), cubed
2 eggplant , peeled and cubed
2 onions , peeled and cut into strips
8 cloves garlic , crushed
4 shallots , peeled and thinly sliced
6 large Roma (or other tomatoes), peeled, seeded and crushed
2 bell peppers , cut into 1-inch squares
1 bunch fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Cover the bottom of a saucepan with olive oil and heat over low heat.
Sweat half of the shallots for a couple minutes. Add half the garlic and make sure not to brown it. Add the tomatoes. Mix, and add salt and pepper. Level the surface and cover. Cut a disk of parchment paper and make a hole in the center to make a chimney. Place this parchment paper on tomatoes to regulate cooking and maintain moisture. Simmer for 15 minutes and check the liquid level. If the tomatoes produce a lot of water, finish cooking without the chimney but still on low heat. Continue cooking for about 15 minutes or until dry. The mass must be homogeneous and no longer be producing liquid. This can only be achieved through moderate cooking. Cover the bottom of another saucepan with olive oil and sweat the peppers over low heat. Add salt and pepper. Proceed exactly the same way with the zucchinis. Cover the bottom of a large pot with olive oil and sweat the remaining onions, garlic and shallots until lightly brown. Add the eggplant and sweat without adding oil. Add salt and pepper.
Finally, in a large pot, place some of the eggplant and peppers with the bunch of fresh thyme. Add some of the zucchini and the rest of the eggplant and peppers, alternating the vegetables. Add the crushed tomato over the entire surface.
Mix gently. Cover and simmer stew over low heat for about 10 minutes.
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