I have not learned how to plate this as elegantly as the clever rat, but it tastes delicious and is a wonderful way to accommodate late summer’s bounty. I used the veggies I found at the farm stand*, including peppers in lots of different colors.
This recipe is adapted from Sarah Leah Chase’s Nantucket Open-House Cookbook
½ c olive oil
4 large Spanish [or sweet] onions, thinly sliced
Saute, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent.
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium eggplants, unpeeled, cut into 1 – 1½ inch cubes*
Cook until the eggplant begins to soften, about 10 minutes.
2 green bell peppers, seeded and cut into ½ inch wide strips
2 red bell peppers, seeded and cut into ½ inch wide strips
3 medium zucchini, cut into ½ inch wide strips
3 medium summer squash, cut into ½ wide strips
1 T dried marjoram
[OR 4 T “Italian Seasonings”]
Salt and pepper to taste
4 ripe medium tomatoes [I use more if in season], diced
1 pound small fresh mushrooms, slice if larger [I usually omit]
Stir and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes longer. Stir in:
½ c chopped fresh basil
½ c chopped fresh parsley
12-oz mozzarella cheese, cut into ½ inch dice [I omit ]
NOTE: Mozzarella is really optional. This soup is good warm --- plain or with just a sprinkling of Parmesan and also good at room temperature --- a pot made over the weekend will provide Sunday night dinner and a week of lunches. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve with crusty bread.
* September 2017: I had not made this in a while so with all the ingredients in season, I decided to make a batch and take some photos. Only mistake I made was to cut the eggplant too small and it got quite mushy. There is a reason for the larger chunks. The yield will vary depending on the size of the veggies. The recipe made from ingredients shown in the photos yielded exactly 2.5 quarts.
VARIATION: When I was in Colorado last October, I had dinner at the home of family friends. Barbara is a spectacular cook and this evening's dinner lived up to my expectations: rack of lamb and an awesome Ratatouille accented with capers. Barbara said the recipe came from the original New York Times Cookbook. She also noted that the timing of adding the different veggies is key to the recipe's success (note recipe above also adds veggies incrementally). When I returned home, I took my tattered copy off the bookshelf and found "Ratatouille Nicoise":
In a large skillet heat:
1/3 c olive oil [think I would use a little less]
2 or more cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, sliced
Saute until the onion is transparent.
2 zucchini squash, well scrubbed and sliced
1 small eggplant, peeled and cubed
2 green peppers, seeded and cut into strips
Flour the squash and eggplant lightly then add along with the peppers to the mixture in the skillet, cover and cook slowly about one hour.
5 ripe tomatoes, peeled and sliced
and simmer, uncovered, until the mixture is thick. During the last 15 minutes of cooking [I don't think this timing is critical] add
1 T capers
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.