Imagine the scent of fresh basil.
1 large eggplant
1 medium yellow onion
2 small bell peppers
3 medium zucchini
2 large tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 bay leaf
2 whole sprigs thyme
1/4 cup loosely packed basil, sliced into ribbons
Extra basil for garnishing
Salt and pepper
Chop eggplant into bite-sized cubes. Transfer to a strainer set over a bowl and toss with teaspoon salt. Let sit awhile.
Dice onions and roughly chop peppers, zucchinis, and tomatoes into bite-sized pieces. Mince garlic. Vegetables will be cooked in batches, so keep each in a separate bowl.
Warm a teaspoon olive oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions and generous pinch salt. Sauté until onions have softened and are beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add peppers and continue cooking until soft, another 5 minutes. Transfer to a clean bowl.
Add another teaspoon of oil to pot and sauté zucchini with generous pinch of salt until softened and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add to onions and peppers.
Rinse eggplant under running water and squeeze cubes gently to remove as much moisture as possible. Warm two teaspoons oil in pan and sauté until softened and beginning to turn translucent, about 10 minutes. Add to other vegetables.
During cooking, a brown glaze will gradually build in the pan. Dissolve glaze between batches by pouring 1/4 cup water or red wine into pan and scraping up glaze. Pour deglazing liquid into veggie bowl.
Warm another teaspoon olive oil and sauté garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme. As tomato juices begin to bubble, scrape up brown glaze.
Add all vegetables back into pan and stir until evenly mixed. Bring to a simmer, then turn down to low. Stir occasionally for at least 20 minutes or up to 1 1/2 hours. Longer cooking time will break vegetables down into a silky stew.
Remove bay leaf and thyme sprigs and stir in basil. Sprinkle extra basil and a glug of good olive oil over each bowl as you serve.
Ratatouille is often better the second day, and it can be eaten cold, room temperature, or warm.
We thank thekitchn.com for this recipe.