Ratatouille is as versatile as it is hearty and satisfying, so it's perfect to have on hand for the upcoming weekend. As an appetizer or snack, serve it warm, chilled, or at room temperature with thick slices of crusty French bread or wedges of pita bread. For an entrée, enjoy Ratatouille as a filling for omelets or pita bread, as a topping for baked potatoes or fish, or as an accompaniment to broiled or grilled chicken.
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, cut into thin strips
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 small eggplant, cut into 2-inch by 3/8-inch strips (about 4 cups)
1 green bell pepper, cut into 2-inch by 3/8-inch strips
1 zucchini, cut into 2-inch by 3/8-inch strips
1 cup green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, or to taste
2 tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until glossy. Add the garlic, eggplant, bell pepper, zucchini, and green beans. Sprinkle the vinegar over the vegetables. Cook 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomato sauce, sugar, basil and oregano (if using), and pepper. Cover and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove the pan from the heat. Add the tomatoes and fresh basil and oregano (if using) to the mixture and stir gently. Let stand, covered, in a warm place for 1 hour. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
YIELD: 4 cups
Advance preparation: Ratatouille will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator. Serve chilled, bring to room temperature, or reheat to serve.