several splashes Basil Olive Oil
1 eggplant, sliced
a few zucchini, sliced (not too thin)
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeds removed, sliced in strips or rounds
1 green bell pepper, cored and seeded, sliced in strips or rounds
a few onions, sliced in strips or rounds
4 or 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped (or roasted garlic)
several garden ripe tomatoes, sliced
a bay leaf or two
a few sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tsp. dried
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 or 2 bunches fresh basil, chopped
1 Tbsp. Traditional Balsamic

There are as many ways to make ratatouille as there are cooks, all with the same basic group of ingredients. The easiest method is to simply pile everything into a stockpot and simmer until tender. While this is a perfectly appropriate way to make a vegetable stew, it’s not the tastiest way. For maximum flavour try the following:

Begin by roasting the eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onion (with a splash or two of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste) at 415F for approx. 7-10 minutes. You want them them to be tender and pliable, and perhaps beginning to caramelize, but not completely falling apart. If they do fall apart, that's OK. The recipe will still work and taste amazing. Remove from heat and allow to cool until handleable.

Turn oven heat down to 325F. Coat a dutch oven or casserole dish with olive oil and begin to layer the roasted vegetables with the tomato slices in whatever pattern you prefer, sprinkling in the finely chopped or roasted garlic wherever you like. Tuck the bay leaf in the middle, or if using two, one in approximately each half of the dish.Drizzle with another splash or two of olive oil and sprinkle with thyme and salt and pepper.

Bake until everything is heated through and edges begin to turn brown, approximately 20-30 minutes. Top with fresh basil and the Traditional Balsamic and serve immediately.

*Tested in Vegetarian Cooking Class

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