When I was young, ratatouille was not an unknown - I ate it, but it often was made with too much olive oil, and the vegetables were limp and , to my eye, overcooked. And then came Nouvelle Cuisine. Somewhere I read a recipe for ratatouille during that time - the vegetables were cooked quickly, and they stayed beautifully colorful. From that time on I tinkered with the recipe, depending on the season. Which brings me to my delight with those cello bags of small, colorful sweet peppers, which are almost always on hand. Instead of using one large pepper , I thought it would be even prettier with a rainbow of color - orange, reds, yellows - the green of zucchini, the dusky skin of the eggplant.
And you see, I was right:
Note: I taste raw eggplant and usually can tell if it's going to be bitter. Bitter eggplant is a disaster because there's no way to save it, you have to toss it. That said, it's wise to slice the eggplant, sprinkle with kosher salt, and let sit 15 minutes. Wash and pat dry before proceeding with the recipe.
1 medium firm eggplant, sliced (see above), cut into large dice
4 tablespoons good olive oil (I use California)
1 large white onion, chopped
4 smashed peeled garlic cloves
2 medium green zucchinis, washed, sliced into large dice
1/2 lb (which is half a bag) of rainbow mini peppers, trimmed of stems and seeded and sliced into fourths
1 medium can of diced tomatoes, include juices
1 cup small cherry tomatoes, whole
3 tablespoons Green Mountain Gringo salsa, medium heat
salt and pepper to taste
dried basil and oregano, or you can use fresh as well - I prefer dried.
In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil until sizzling. Add the onions and garlic and stir for a few minutes, then add the chopped peppers. Let the peppers sear a little before stirring them - I like the little bit of charring they pick up.
Add the canned tomatoes, salsa, herbs, eggplant, and zucchini and stir well. Then add the whole cherry tomatoes and gently stir in. Let cook, half covered, on medium heat 15-20 minutes, then stir and taste the ratatouille. There should be no undercooked pieces in the pot. Take the pot off the burner, cover, and let sit half an hour before eating. You can plate it or just put it in a bowl or serving dish.