Ratatouille (version XXIV)

3 medium eggplants, cut into 2-inch cubes
4 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, then cut into 2-inch pieces
coarse Kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
6 medium yellow onions, peeled, thinly sliced
4 medium green or red bell peppers, cored, seeded,
cut into 1-by-2-inch strips
6 small tomatoes, peeled, seeded, quartered
8 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
20 leaves fresh basil
1 bunch fresh parsley
8 sprigs fresh thyme
freshly ground black pepper

Put eggplant and zucchini in two separate strainers and toss each with 1 tablespoon salt. Allow to drain for 30 minutes. Blot with paper towels to dry.

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-low heat in a large skillet. Add onions and sauté until translucent, about 15 minutes; then transfer to a bowl and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons oil to same skillet, increase heat to medium high, add eggplant and sauté until golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer eggplant to a large heavy pot and spoon a layer of onions on top.

Add 2 tablespoons oil and zucchini to skillet and sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer to pot and cover with a layer of onions.

Add 1 tablespoon oil and peppers to skillet and sauté until edges brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to pot and cover with a layer of onions.

Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet, add tomatoes, garlic and basil, lightly crushing tomatoes with the back of a fork, and cook until slightly thickened, about 15 minutes.

Transfer to pot, add remaining onions, parsley and thyme, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer, partially covered, over low heat, gently stirring occasionally, for 1 1/2 hours. Adjust seasoning, then cook about 30 minutes more.

Serves 8.

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