This recipe come to us courtesy of Ina Pinkney, one of our favorite Chicago chefs. She says:
"Spawned on the Riviera, Ratatouille is a wonderful vegetable mixture that can be eaten hot or cold. Using the sensational vegetables at Chicago's Green City Market and the perfect spice blend from The Spice House will enhance this simple - and simply delicious - dish.
"It makes a lovely side dish served hot and a summer lunch served cold with a good crusty bread and a bottle of sturdy wine."
Cut the eggplant into 1/2" cubes, put into a colander and salt liberally. Let it drain while preparing the other vegetables.
Keeping all the vegetables separate on the cutting board, cut the peppers, tomatoes, onions, and squashes the same size as the eggplant.
Smash and peel the garlic and chop it coarsely.
In a heavy-bottomed pan, heat some of the olive oil and gently saute the eggplant until golden brown. Drain and reserve.
Turn the heat to medium-low and add more oil to the pot. Saute the onions until they are translucent, then add the garlic and spice mix. Stir until combined.
Add the peppers and stir for 3 minutes.
Add the squash and stir for 3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, cooking for 10 minutes and stirring occasionally. Finally add the drained eggplant, and cook 15-20 minutes more until everything is soft and flavorful. Add 5 minutes if you think it needs more time.
You can garnish with fresh basil or other herbs and a drizzle of olive oil.
I think this glorious dish tastes even better the next day.
Some ratatouille recipes ask that you cook all the vegetables separately, which makes for a better-looking dish since the vegetables don't break down. In the interest of time, I cook all of them together and still have a delicious dish.