My husband does not like vegetables. He eats them only because I make them and because he knows they’re good for him.  So when I suggested ratatouille for dinner, a dish made up entirely of vegetables, including suspicious ones like eggplant, he was less than enthusiastic about it. It was like I had thrown a wet, vegetable-y blanket over his hopes for dinner.

Well, he shouldn’t have worried, because this dish is awesome. It’s hearty and delicious and flavorful and a decidedly un-vegetable-y way to have vegetables. James loved it. Loved it! I’ve made it several times since it appeared in the October 2010 issue of Everyday Food, and each time James eats it enthusiastically.

Ratatouille is a quintessential French peasant dish, and like all good peasant dishes, it’s comforting, hearty, flavorful, and cheap to make. And it makes a ton. You can serve it several ways: by itself, as a side, over pasta or polenta. You can put it in a ramekin with a raw egg in the middle and bake it until the egg is set (a very yummy way to have it). You can put it on top of toasts like bruschetta.

Ratatouille

From Everyday Food, October 2010

Prep: 20 minutes

Total: 1 hour 15 minutes

Makes: 3 quarts

1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces

Coarse salt and ground pepper

2 large yellow onions (1 pound total), diced large

1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled

2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and diced large

2 large zucchini (1 pound total), diced large

1 bay leaf

1 tablespoon fresh marjoram or oregano leaves (I use 1 tsp dried oregano)

2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour tomatoes and juices on a rimmed baking sheet and use your hands to carefully crush tomatoes into 3/4-inch pieces. (The tomatoes may be bursting with liquid so be careful not to squirt tomato juice all over your kitchen.) Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and bake until thickened, 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a colander, toss eggplant with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Let sit 20 minutes, then squeeze out excess liquid. In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until onions and garlic are soft, 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bay leaf, and oregano to pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture comes to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, partially cover, and cook at a gentle simmer until vegetables are tender but not mushy, about 15 minutes. Stir in vinegar – I always use 3 tablespoons, but adjust it to your taste. Season with salt and pepper and remove bay leaf before serving.
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