Ratatouille

I make ratatouille very methodically. One vegetable at a time. Cut to the same size (or as close as possible). Added progressively. There’s a rhythm to it. It’s quite meditative.

***

Olive oil

3 medium onions

2 red peppers

2 medium eggplant

3 cloves garlic

4 zucchinis

4 plum tomatoes

Bay leaves, rosemary, thyme, and summer savory (if available)

Salt and pepper

Sherry vinegar

***

Thinly slice the onions. Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, such as Le Creuset or cast-iron, large enough to hold the whole ratatouille. Add the onions to the oil, season with salt and pepper, and let them slowly melt until translucent, checking and stirring occasionally to avoid sticking to the pan.

While the onions melt, cut the red peppers into 1/2 in (1 cm) squares*. Add them to the onions. Season with salt and pepper and let stew, checking and stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

While the onions and peppers are stewing, cut the eggplant into 1/2  in (1 cm) cubes. Add eggplant and whole, peeled garlic cloves to saucepan, season with salt and pepper, and let stew, checking and stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

(At this point it is a good idea to stir and check the bottom of the pan and add some olive oil if necessary.)

While the onions, peppers, and eggplant are stewing, slice the zucchini, not too thinly. Add to saucepan, season with salt and pepper, and let stew, checking and stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

Next peal the tomatoes and dice them into 1/2  in (1 cm) cubes. Add to saucepan, season with salt and pepper and let stew, checking and stirring occasionally to avoid sticking.

Bind together with kitchen twine a sprig of rosemary, and a few sprigs each of thyme and summer savory if available. Add the herbs with 2 bay leaves to the ratatouille, stir from the bottom up, and let stew slowly a further 15-20 minutes approximately until the vegetables are cooked but not mushy. If you are serving the ratatouille cold, remove from heat a little early as the vegetables will continue to cook while the ratatouille cools.

Check salt and pepper seasoning and add 2-3 tablespoons of sherry vinegar to taste. Serve hot or at room temperature.

*The actual dimension is not so important. The key is for all the vegetables to be cut to approximately the same size.

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