Photo by Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post
Take advantage of your slow-cooker to make this classic Provençal stew of summer vegetables — tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant and peppers — without heating up, or being tied to, the kitchen.
You’ll need a slow-cooker with 4-to-5 1/2-quart capacity.
Serve the ratatouille warm or at room temperature; as a side dish for grilled poultry or meat; as a bed for a fish fillet; on a sandwich; or perhaps over toast with an egg on top.
Make Ahead: The salted eggplant needs to drain for 30 minutes. The ratatouille can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
1 medium eggplant (unpeeled; about 1 pound), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
5 medium Roma or plum tomatoes (about 1 pound), cut into medium dice
2 medium zucchini and/or yellow summer squash (about 8 ounces each), cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 large red, orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 large onion, sliced into half-moons
4 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (may substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
1 bay leaf
Fresh basil leaves, left whole or cut into ribbons (chiffonade), for garnish
Place the eggplant in a colander set over a bowl or in the sink, and toss with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Allow to sit and drain for 30 minutes, then rinse the eggplant with cold water. Lay the eggplant on paper towels and pat with additional paper towel to remove as much water as possible.
Whisk together the oil, tomato paste, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the black pepper in a medium bowl until incorporated.
Combine the drained/rinsed eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini and/or squash, bell pepper, onion, garlic and thyme in your slow-cooker. Add the oil-tomato paste mixture and stir to incorporate. Add the bay leaf. Cover and cook on LOW for 4 hours or until the vegetables are tender, then uncover and cook for 1 hour more to allow some of the liquid to evaporate and the vegetables to meld further. Discard the bay leaf.
Garnish with the basil before serving.
Makes 6 servings
Per serving: Calories 130; Total Fat 8g; (Sat Fat 1g); Protein 3g; Carb 15g; Fiber 5g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 280mg; Total Sugar 9g