Traditional ratatouille from south of France

Ratatouille, a blending of herbs from Provence with zucchini, eggplant, pepper, tomatoes, onions, and garlic, will make wonderful smells in your kitchen. As it's a strongly flavored dish, it is best when simply accompanied by a plain roast or broiled chicken.

Ratatouille is equally good served hot or cold, and it seems to gain in flavor when left overnight and reheated the next day. Ratatouille Nicoise 1/2 pound eggplant 1/2 pound zucchini 1 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons olive oil, or more if needed 1 1/2 cups onions, thinly sliced 2 peppers, green, red, or both, sliced 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 pound tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped Salt and pepper Fresh basil, parsley, thyme

Peel eggplant and cut into 1-inch slices. Cut off ends of zucchini and cut into 1-inch slices. Place both vegetables in a bowl and toss with salt. Let stand 30 minutes, then drain.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Saute onions and peppers until soft, but not brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomatoes, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook over low heat for 5 minutes.

Heat 4 tablespoons oil in another skillet. Saute eggplant, then zucchini, until very lightly browned, then remove to a side dish. If necessary add more oil to skillet.

Add eggplant and zucchini to other vegetables and stir gently. Stir in fresh herbs to taste. Cover and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, until all vegetables are quite soft but retain their shape. Serves 6.

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