La Ratatouille De Léonie

by Joseph Russell · June 25, 2008

french vegetable stewMy mother has been making this dish every summer since I can remember. It's just a gorgeous mash of peppers, eggplants, summer squashes, and tomatoes, simmered forever in a dutch oven and let cool (the coldness is what makes it so summery, almost like a French gazpacho). It's lovely on its own, heaped over cornbread, or better yet, polenta. Let me know what you think!

Leonie's Ratatouille

2 very large onions, sliced medium

8 large cloves garlic, sliced thin

2-3 good-sized, firm eggplant, sliced 1/3 -1/2 "

4 green peppers, sliced crosswise, 1/3 - 1/2 " -- yellow are prettier and pricier

4-6 good-sized zucchini

12-15 plum tomatoes, or field tomatoes in season.

lots of olive oil

salt and pepper

Heat several tablespoons of olive oil in Dutch oven over medium-low flame. Lay down onion slices in double layer. Sprinkle 1/3 the garlic slices over them. Layer eggplant slices. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, 1/3 of garlic, and a little more olive oil. Reduce flame, so that the onions do not scorch before they receive the moisture from the perspiring eggplant. Layer the peppers. Layer the zucchini, sprinkle with remaining garlic, salt, pepper. Top with tomato slices, and final dash of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cover and simmer for at least one hour. Do not stir until done, and then only gently, more like folding, so as not to mush the eggplant. Even better next day.

[Image via Mediterrasian]