|(Beatrice Peltre for The Boston Globe)|
Serves 4, with leftovers
|8||tablespoons olive oil|
|1||large red onion, finely chopped|
|4||cloves garlic, finely chopped|
|3||sprigs fresh thyme|
|4||Italian eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice|
|6||medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice|
|3||bell peppers (1 red, 1 yellow, 1 orange), cored and cut into strips|
|7||medium (about 2 pounds) tomatoes, cored and diced|
|Salt and pepper, to taste|
|1||tablespoon chopped fresh oregano|
|2||tablespoons sherry vinegar|
|2||tablespoons chopped fresh parsley|
1. In a large flameproof casserole over medium heat, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic and thyme and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
2. Add the eggplant and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes (it will not be cooked through). Transfer to a bowl.
3. In the same pan, heat 3 more tablespoons olive oil. Add the zucchini and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of eggplant.
4. Heat 2 more tablespoons olive oil. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes.
5. Return the eggplant and zucchini mixture to the pan. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and add the oregano. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours or until all the vegetables are very tender.
6. Add the sherry vinegar 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
7. Discard the sprigs of thyme. Stir in the parsley. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. (Set aside 4 cups ratatouille for the clafoutis.)