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Delicious Vegetable Stew (aka Ratatouille)
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I've discovered a recipe that is simply delicious, yummy, savory. All vegetables, can be served as a vegan dish, if so desired.

It's my version of Ratatouille (because I had this enormous eggplant). I've never liked anyone else's version of Ratatouille because it was so watery, so bland, with a bunch of salt added to pretend to flavor it. This version is much better, just a pinch of salt, pinch of sweet-hot pepper, letting the vegetable flavor come through.

Partly the extraordinary flavor is due to the fact that all of the veggies are homegrown except for the onion and garlic.

Here goes: RATATOUILLE (6-8 servings? hah! more like 3-4)

In a heavy large sauce pan, 1 eggplant, cut into 1 inch cubes. Saute in olive oil until browned (don't skip this step; it really improves the flavor).

I don't peel the eggplant, nor do I salt and press it to get out the liquid. Just au naturel and it provides the little bit of liquid for the veggies. Do not add additional liquid.

Remove eggplant from pan. Saute in the same pan 2 large onions, chopped, along with garlic (is there any food that isn't better with garlic in it?) and pinch of red pepper flakes or chili flakes, pinch of salt, bunch of fresh basil, finely chopped.

When onion is translucent, add sweet peppers, 2 or the equivalent (I've used fire roasted green and yellow peppers left over from earlier meal prep). Add 3 medium summer squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (I used crookneck yellow and zucchini from my garden).

And, finally 3 medium tomatoes from my garden, cut up. Cook over low heat for 10 minutes or so. Don't start reading something interesting and forget to come back to the stove!

Now I like to put the whole thing into the crock pot, stir a bit to mix eggplant into veggie mixture, cook on lowest setting for 2 hours. Veggies become quite soft and the flavors blend nicely. Taste and adjust the salt to your preference. Remember: don't add additional liquid. The vegetables supply all that's needed as they cook.

Each time I make this recipe I toss in some other additional herbs: summer savory or thyme or dill weed. Just be careful not to overpower the natural vegetable goodness.

Serve hot, with grated asiago cheese on top and more chopped fresh basil.

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