5–6 cloves garlic; peeled, crushed, and very finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon)
½ cup water
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Heat ¼ cup of the oil in one or, better, two large skillets.
First sauté the eggplant cubes, about 8 minutes; remove with slotted spoon and transfer to a large, heavy flameproof casserole. (The eggplant will absorb more oil while cooking than the other vegetables.)
Then sauté the zucchini cubes until browned, about 8 minutes. Then transfer to the casserole.
Add about ¼ cup more oil to the pan and sauté the onions and peppers together for about 6 minutes. Add them to the casserole.
Add the tomatoes, garlic, water, salt, and pepper to the casserole and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat, cover, and cook over low heat for 1 hour.
Remove the cover, increase the heat to medium, and cook another 20 minutes, uncovered, to reduce some of the liquid; stir once in a while to prevent scorching.
Let the ratatouille rest for at least 30 minutes before serving.
This recipe is from Jacques Pepin: Ratatouille is the epitome of Provençal vegetable stews. The vegetables are sautéed individually in oil before being stewed, so they keep their shape and texture. If you prefer, though, you can put all the cubed vegetables into a casserole and top with the seasonings and water. Ratatouille is excellent reheated, and superb cold as an hors d’oeuvre topped with small black olives and olive oil.
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