Ratatouille with Riverbench Estate Pinot Noir

Ratatouille is one of my favorite late summer dishes to prepare. Not only will you use up a whole bunch of the zucchini, squash, and tomatoes that are taking over your yard this time of year, but you’ll enjoy a delicious dish many times over. This recipe makes a whole lot, so use the leftovers to fill a sandwich, top a pizza, or toss with pasta. I once had this served over polenta and sprinkled with goat cheese and it was divinely memorable! (This recipe is adapted from one in Joanne Weir’s book From Tapas to Meze.)

• 2 lbs. eggplant, cubed
• 3 tbsp. olive oil
• 3 yellow, red, or green bell peppers, seeded and cut into strips
• 4-6 small zucchini, cut into slices
• 2 small yellow squash, cut into slices
• 2 yellow onions, cut into wedges
• 6 cloves garlic, minced
• 6 tomatoes, seeded and cut into cubes
• 2 bay leaves
• 6 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
• 1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
• 1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped
• 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
• ½ cup red wine
• 1 cup fresh packed basil leaves, cut into strips

Place the eggplant on a paper towel lined baking sheet and salt liberally. Leave for 30 minutes, then pat dry.

In a large heavy stock pot, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil on medium heat. Brown the eggplant on all sides. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add remaining tablespoon oil to the pan and add the bell peppers. Cook, stirring once in a while, until they are soft; this will take about 6 minutes. Remove and reserve with eggplant. Add the zucchini and squash and cook about 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove and reserve with other veggies. Finally, add the onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, herbs, and red wine and simmer for about 25 minutes. Add reserved vegetables to the pot and cook another 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and red wine vinegar.

Place ratatouille on a platter and garnish with the basil.