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Bill Neal's Ratatouille

  • ACTIVE: 1 HR
  • TOTAL TIME: 1 HR 45 MIN
  • SERVINGS: Makes 8 cups
  • HEALTHY
  • VEGETARIAN

For his very classic, chunky ratatouille, Bill Neal sautéed each vegetable separately before simmering them all together with tomatoes and fresh thyme ("My dad grew fresh thyme; he always used it fresh," says his son Matt). Bill would then serve it at room temperature as an appetizer, either by itself or on an hors d'oeuvres platter.

From Remembering Bill Neal: Favorite Recipes From a Life in Cooking by Moreton Neal. Copyright © 2004 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. www.uncpress.unc.edu.

  1. 1 large eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  2. Salt
  3. 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  4. 1 large onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  5. 2 medium red bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  6. 2 medium zucchini, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  7. 4 garlic cloves, minced
  8. 2 pounds tomatoes—peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
  9. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  10. 2 tablespoons chopped thyme
  11. Freshly ground pepper
  12. 1/4 cup chopped basil
  1. In a colander, sprinkle the eggplant with salt and toss. Let stand for 1 hour. Transfer the eggplant to paper towels and pat dry.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Scrape the onion into a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Repeat the process with the bell peppers, zucchini and the garlic with the eggplant, using 2 tablespoons of oil to cook each batch.
  3. Stir the tomatoes, coriander and thyme into the vegetables in the casserole and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat until the tomatoes are broken down and the vegetables are very tender, about 20 minutes. Stir in the basil and serve.
Make Ahead The ratatouille can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.