Summer delivers a bounty of fresh vegetables all at once and we scramble to use them up before they become scarce again. This southern French staple is the perfect way to get all your summer goodies into one dish. As the stew slowly simmers, the flavors mingle in the most perfect of ways, giving you a dish that is stunning on its own or equally fabulous served alongside grilled meats or fish.
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat until shimmering, about 1 minute. Add the bell peppers, onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the bell peppers have softened slightly, about 10 minutes. Add the eggplant, the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring often, until the eggplant is very soft, about 8 minutes. Add the zucchini and continue to cook, stirring often, until beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, tomato paste and red pepper flakes, if using. Cook, stirring often, until the zucchini has softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer and then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the ratatouille has reached a thick stew-like consistency, about 10 minutes. Stir in the parsley and basil with salt and pepper to taste. Spoon into a bowl and sprinkle with more fresh parsley and basil before serving.
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