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According to French tradition, each vegetable in ratatouille is cooked in separate pans in order to achieve the correct doneness. This technique is great for the cook, but awful for the pot-washer. If the vegetables are added in order of cooking time, the results are just the same. Eggplant is the one exception and must be treated differently. Eggplant is a sponge and will soak up every liquid in the pot, rendering this wonderful vegetable oily. Better to cook the eggplant in a nonstick pan with a hint of oil so that the vegetable browns beautifully and does not stick to the pan.

This recipe is not disneyfied, but it is delicious:

Ratatouille

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 eggplant, diced
  • 2 zucchini or yellow squash, diced
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, and chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tin of anchovies, mashed
  • 1 tablespoon dried currants (or raisins)
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • chopped fresh oregano to taste

To roast the pepper, place on a gas burner or grill and cook until the skin is burnt. Cover and let steam until cool. (Or roast under a broiler.) Peel off the skin, remove the ribs and seeds, and dice.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large saute pan. Cook the onions on medium high heat until clear, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper. Add the wine and sugar. Season with black pepper.

In a nonstick pan, heat the rest of the oil and saute the eggplant until tender and browned. Add to the onions. Turn the heat to high and add the squash, tomatoes, capers, anchovies, currants, and pine nuts. Cook until the squash is tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Season with oregano.