Ratatouille is a southern French dish made from eggplant, zucchini, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and garlic. There are many different variations, and today you can find ratatouille pies, soups, and quiches. I like this version adapted from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Volume 1), Knopf, 1971, because it preserves the integrity of each type of vegetable and is moist without being soupy. It has the additional advantage of using a small amount of oil because of the initial roasting of the eggplant and zucchini.


Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray two cookie sheets with olive oil or another vegetable oil spray. Put the zucchini and eggplant slices on the cookie sheets. Brush very lightly with olive oil, and bake until slightly brown on each side. In a skillet, cook onions and peppers slowly in 2 T. olive oil for about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, and season to taste. Slice tomato pulp into 3/8-inch strips. Place tomato slices over onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes. Uncover, baste with the tomato juices, raise heat, and boil for several minutes, until most of the juice has evaporated. Put 1/3 of tomato mixture in the bottom of a casserole. Sprinkle with 1 T. parsley. Arrange 1/2 of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half of the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Correct seasoning. Raise heat for 15 minutes, basting if dry. Serve cold, warm, or hot.
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