A kind of Greek, rustic ratatouille that can be made with any combination of summer vegetables. I particularly like it with just eggplants and green bell peppers plus plenty of onions and garlic, all baked slowly in my fragrant tomato sauce.
We can find all kinds of delicious eggplants here and choose whichever we want for our summer dishes. For this I prefer the long ones –which are similar to the Chinese and Japanese– because they better retain their shape. But any kind of eggplant is fine, and I strongly suggest you use the fresher you find in your farmer’s market —Molly Stevens explains beautifully the flavor variations between the various eggplants, which make little difference for this particular dish.
3-4 long eggplants, or 2-3 medium round eggplants—about 1 ½ -2 pounds (1 kilo) cut into roughly 1 ½ -inch slices or cubes, if you use round eggplants
3 medium green bell peppers, halved and seeded; each half cut into 3 lengthwise then into about 1-inch slices
3 medium onions, halved, each half cut into 4 wedges
4 medium garlic cloves halved lengthwise, each half cut into 3 wedges
3 cups Basic Tomato Sauce
Good pinch of Maras or Aleppo pepper, or red pepper flakes to taste
1 large tomato cut into thin slices (optional)
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts (optional)
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley (optional)
SERVE WITH: Feta or fresh goat’s cheese and crusty whole-wheat bread slices to soap-up the wonderful juices.
Preheat the oven to 400 F (200 C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Salt generously the eggplants in a sieve and let stand for 10-20 minutes, until you prepare the rest of the vegetables.
Pat dry with paper, without rinsing, transfer to a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, tossing to distribute. Transfer to the baking sheet and bake in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes, until softened.
Lower the oven to 350 F (about 170 C).
While the eggplants are baking, sauté the peppers in ¼ cup olive, over medium-high heat, tossing often, and adding the onions and garlic after 5 minutes. Sauté for about 15 minutes more, until softened, without letting them color –lower the heat if necessary.
Transfer the baked eggplant pieces as well as the peppers and onions together with their cooking oil into a square or round pan and pour over the tomato sauce. Add pepper and salt, toss and taste to adjust the flavor. If you like, lay the tomato slices on top and transfer to the oven.
Bake for about 40 minutes or more, until the vegetables are very tender.
Sprinkle with the pine nuts and with parsley, if you like, and serve warm or at room temperature, accompanied by feta or goat’s cheese, and crusty whale-wheat bread slices to soap-up the wonderful juices.