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The delicious (and ahem, vegan) casserole is mainly a result of stewing vegetables for a really, really long time. They are first roasted or sauteed, in most cases, and baked for 1 1/2 hours.

It’s amazing how vegetables and time can make for such a delicious, mostly healthy treat. (There is a fair amount of salt and olive oil.)

Here’s what I did, borrowing from one of many ratatouille recipes in my “Mediterranean Harvest” cookbook.

Ratatouille

1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

2 medium onions, thinly sliced

2 bell peppers (preferably yellow and red), sliced

4-6 garlic cloves, minced

1 1/2 pounds yellow squash and zucchini (about 4 small or 2 large), cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 large tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped

2 teaspoons fresh thyme

1 teaspoon dried oregano

2 bay leaves

Olive oil

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Salt and pepper

Generously salt eggplant; place in colander over sink and let sit 30 minutes to 1 hour. Preheat oven to 450 F.

Rinse eggplant; pat dry. Place in 9- by 13-inch casserole dish; toss with 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil. Roast eggplant 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned and fragrant.

Remove casserole from oven; reduce oven to 350 F.

While eggplant roasts, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook 5 minutes or until just tender, stirring often. Add bell peppers and generous salt pinch. Continue to cook 5 to 10 minutes until peppers soften, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in half the garlic; cook 1 minute more. Season with salt and pepper; add to eggplant in casserole dish.

Return skillet to medium heat; add 1 tablespoon olive oil and squash; season with salt and pepper. Cook 5 to 19 minutes until just tender; stir in remaining garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add vegetables to casserole dish.

Add half the tomatoes, herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Toss to evenly mix. Cover dish with foil; bake 1 hour. Then stir in remaining tomatoes and continue baking, covered for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven. Let cool 10 minutes, then enjoy!

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Christinia Crippes is a Courier reporter who loves to cook. Read her blog at www.wcfcourier.com.

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