Ratatouille was created as a necessary but delicious way to handle the mid-summer explosion of vegetables. The dish has similar counterparts around the globe, all uniquely seasoned and with some variation in ingredients based on locale. I love to use an extra-large braiser to double or triple this recipe and store it in quart-size containers in the freezer. I especially welcome the burst of summer veggie flavor in winter months. Searing the vegetables is a bit time consuming up front, but once it’s done, the whole thing goes into the oven to cook down into out-of-this-world deliciousness. Serve it with a loaf of bread, or crack some eggs over the top and bake it for dinner. It's great with seared fish or grilled meat, adding incredible brightness and depth of flavor to any dish.
One 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon anchovy paste
2 sprigs rosemary
2 sprigs thyme
1 medium red onion, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 zucchini, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow summer squash, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 eggplant, unpeeled, cut into 1-inch chunks
2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 cloves garlic, sliced
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Pour the tomatoes into a large bowl and crush them by hand. Add the vinegar, anchovy paste, rosemary, thyme, and 1 tablespoon salt. Stir and set aside.
Heat a large pan over medium heat and lightly coat with some olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the red onion and let it develop a nice sear (they should be nicely browned but not cooked through), 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Transfer to the large bowl. Repeat this process with the zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, and the bell peppers, cooking each vegetable separately and adding more olive oil to the pan as needed. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan, and maintain the heat so that the vegetables are seared but not cooked through. To finish, add a small splash of olive oil to one side of the pan and cook the garlic, stirring, until aromatic, about 1 minute. Transfer to the large bowl. Mix the ingredients together and pour into a large baking dish or braiser with an oven-safe lid.
Cover and bake for 2 hours. Remove the lid and bake uncovered for 1 more hour. Remove from the oven and serve, or allow to cool and store in the refrigerator for up to 7 days or up to 6 months in the freezer.