It's the time of year when summer vegetables are at their best, and I can't leave the market without stocking up on zucchini, eggplant, and tomatoes. So it's the perfect time of year to make ratatouille. But I'm somewhat picky about my ratatouille and really dislike versions that are watery or that feature insufficiently cooked eggplant. I got the technique that I use for making ratatouille from Cook's Illustrated . You start by roasting the eggplant and zucchini in a hot oven until nicely browned.
While the eggplant and squash are roasting, you saute an onion and add some thyme, garlic, and tomato. When the vegetables come out of the oven, you add them to the tomato mixture and, after a minute or two of commingling, you're ready to go.
Roasting really concentrates the flavors of the vegetables and keeps this ratatouille from being bland. This just tastes like summer to me, and it's substantial enough that it can serve as a vegetarian main course--just add some quinoa or bread with cheese and you've got dinner! If anything, this tastes even better the next day, so it's great for making ahead or providing delicious leftovers.
Roasted Ratatouille, adapted from Cooks Illustrated
2 medium eggplant, chopped into half-inch pieces
2-3 zucchini or summer squash, chopped into half-inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
2-3 large tomatoes, chopped (or you can use a 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes)
6-7 leaves basil, julienned (optional)
Preheat the oven to 450 while you are chopping the eggplant and zucchini. Spread the vegetables over two rimmed baking sheets, drizzle each pan of vegetables with 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat. Roast until well-browned, around 30 minutes, switching the pans halfway through. While the vegetables are roasting, saute the onion in the remaining olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon salt over medium heat until softened. Stir in the thyme leaves and the garlic, a minute or two later add the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes have broken down and released their juices. Add another 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in the roasted eggplant and zucchini and let cook with the tomatoes for a minute or two. Taste for seasoning, top with basil (if using) and serve.