Using the microwave to cook rounds of eggplant, summer squash and tomatoes arranged prettily in a pie dish takes far less time (and olive oil) than does traditional ratatouille, a Provencal appetizer or side dish that calls for dicing and sauteing each vegetable separately. You won't have to stand over the hot stove, either, making it the perfect dish for the dog days of summer, when the vegetables are at their peak. It is delicious served warm or at room temperature.
Toss the onion, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of the thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a couple grinds of pepper in a microwave-safe 9-inch pie dish. Cover with a piece of wax paper. Microwave on high (at 100 percent power) until the onions are soft and translucent, 7 minutes in an 1,100-watt oven or 10 minutes in a 700-watt oven. (When removing the wax paper, be careful to avoid the hot steam.) If the onions are still a little raw, microwave again, covered, in 30-second increments.
While the onions cook, toss the eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash slices with 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil, the remaining 1/2 teaspoon thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few turns of black pepper in a large bowl. Add the plum tomato slices, and gently toss.
Alternating vegetables, shingle slices in a circular pattern over the cooked onions in the pie dish. Sprinkle lightly with salt. Cover with wax paper. Microwave on high (at 100 percent power) until the vegetables are soft, 9 minutes in an 1,100-watt oven or 14 minutes in a 700-watt oven. If there is any resistance when you pierce the vegetables with a paring knife, microwave again, covered, in 30-second increments. Microwave, uncovered, on high (at 100 percent power) for 3 minutes in an 1,100-watt oven or 4 minutes in a 700-watt oven to evaporate excess moisture. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
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