This Provençal stew doesn't allow for any fuss—and it shouldn't, seeing as it uses up all those beautiful eggplants, tomatoes and peppers from the market (or your garden). The trick is to salt the eggplants ahead of time to extract any excess water, then pat them dry.
To learn more, read "Endless Summer."
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes draining time
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour and 20 minutes, plus 30 minutes draining time
1 large globe or Rosa Bianca eggplant (about 14 ounces), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste
½ cup olive oil, divided
1 large zucchini, sliced into ¼-inch-thick rounds
2 pints Sun Gold or cherry tomatoes, divided
4 thyme sprigs
3 summer savory sprigs (optional)
1 bay leaf
2 medium yellow onions, cut into ½-inch dice
1 red bell pepper—stemmed, seeded and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup loosely packed basil leaves, torn
1 tablespoon finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Toss the eggplant with 1 teaspoon of the salt and allow to drain in a colander for 30 minutes. Pat dry with a paper towel and set aside.
2. In a large Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the eggplant and cook, stirring often, until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. If the eggplant absorbs all the oil and begins to stick to the bottom, add more oil as needed. Remove the eggplant and set aside in a medium bowl. Add 2 more tablespoons of the olive oil to the pot and cook the zucchini until golden but not completely tender, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove and transfer to the bowl with the eggplant. Do not wash out the pot.
3. Using your hands, crush half of the tomatoes and season them with ½ teaspoon of the salt and set aside.
4. Using kitchen twine, tie the thyme, savory and bay leaf sprigs together. In the same pot, heat the remaining ¼ cup of the oil. Add the onions and herb bundle, and cook until soft and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and red pepper are very soft, 14 to 16 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes, then reduce the heat to medium low and cook until the tomatoes are very soft and the flavors have melded together, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the reserved eggplant and zucchini and the remaining tomatoes, and stir 2 to 3 times to combine. Season with salt, cover and reduce the heat to low. Cook until all the vegetables have softened, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, adjust the seasoning as needed and discard the herb bundle. Top with the basil and parsley, and serve.
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