•    8 c. peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
•    6 c. eggplant (remove any largely seeded areas), cut into 1-inch cubes
•    6 c. onions, NOT super-sweet, cut into 1- inch cubes
•    1/3 c. thinly sliced garlic
•    6 c. zucchini (remove any largely seeded areas), cut into 1-inch cubes
•    6 c. bell peppers – red, green or mixed, cut into 1-inch cubes
•    4 T. extra virgin olive oil, divided
•    3 T. chopped fresh thyme OR 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves (NOT ground)
•    2 bay leaves
•    Kosher or sea salt
•    Freshly ground pepper
•    Minced fresh hot chilies OR hot pepper flakes to taste, optional

Mix the tomatoes with 1 tablespoon salt, and put in a colander. Drain for one hour, stirring occasionally. Mix the eggplant with 1 tablespoon salt in another colander. Drain for one hour.

 In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 tablespoon oil over very high heat. Add the onions and stir-fry until softened and lightly caramelized. (Don’t crowd the vegetables – if your skillet isn’t big enough, do this in batches) Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes until the garlic has softened but not browned. Put the onion and garlic mixture into a large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the drained tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme and hot peppers if using. Place the pot over medium heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring frequently.

Rinse the eggplant cubes thoroughly and roll them in a lint free towel. Squeeze the towel to remove as much moisture as possible. Return the skillet to high heat, add another tablespoon of oil. When hot, add the eggplant and stir-fry until softened and lightly caramelized. Add to the pot. Return the skillet to the heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil, repeat the process with the peppers, then add to the pot. Repeat with the zucchini, but after stir-frying, set it aside; DO NOT add to the pot.

Cook the mixture, stirring frequently, until it’s thickened and excess liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Adjust the heat to avoid scorching. Add the zucchini, reduce heat to low, and cook another five minutes.

Remove the bay leaves and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes about 12 cups

Contact Julianne Glatz at realcuisine.jg@gmail.com.

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