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Ratatouille (Mediterranean Vegetable Casserole)

Ingredients

3 pounds Organic Tomatoes firm and ripe

1 1/2 pounds Eggplant peeled and sliced

3/4 inch thick

1 1/2 pounds Organic Zucchini unpeeled and sliced 1/2 inch thick

1/3 cup Olive Oil

3/4 pounds Organic Bell Pepper seeded and cut into 1 inch squares (about 2 cups)

2 1/2 cups Onion sliced thin

1/2 cup Organic Parsley finely chopped

1 tablespoon Basil finely cut or 2 teaspoons dried and crumbled

2 teaspoons Peeled Garlic (finely chopped)

Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper to taste

Directions

Peel the tomatoes and cut into quarters. Remove pulp and seeds, leaving only the shells. Cut the shells into 1/2 inch wide strips, and drain on paper towels.

Lightly salt the eggplant and zucchini slices, layer between paper towels, and weight them with a large, heavy platter for 20-30 minutes.

Dry eggplant and zucchini thoroughly with fresh paper towels.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil over a moderate flame in a heavy 10-12 inch skillet, bring oil almost to the smoking point. Brown eggplant slices for a minute or two on each side, working quickly to prevent them from absorbing too much oil. (Don't worry if they don't brown evenly.)

Remove them to paper towels to drain. In the same skillet, lightly brown the zucchini peppers and onions, one after another, adding more oil if necessary.

Drain the zucchini and peppers on paper towels, but remove the onions to a plate. With a fork, stir the parsley, basil and garlic together in a small bowl.

Pour 1 tablespoon of the oil remaining in the skillet into a heavy 4-5 quart pot. Spread one third of the eggplant slices on the bottom, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the herb and garlic mixture, and season with salt and pepper.

Arrange successive layers of half the zucchini, half the peppers, half the onions, and half the tomatoes - sprinkling herbs, garlic, salt and pepper on each layer. Repeat. Finish with a layer of the eggplant.

Sprinkle with the remaining parsley mixture, salt and pepper, and pour in the oil left in the skillet.

Over moderately high heat, bring the mixture to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Remove accumulated liquid every 7-8 minutes, and transfer to a small saucepan.

Cook for 20-30 minutes, when the vegetables are tender but still somewhat firm, remove the pot from the heat.

Briskly boil the liquid in the saucepan for a few minutes to reduce it to about 2 tablespoons of glaze, and pour it into the pot.

Serve directly from the pot, either hot or cold.