Ratatouille is a classic French country dish of vegetables cooked in their own juices until tender. Taking the same classic flavors, we layered the vegetables with cheese in a gratinlike dish. Comte is a nutty semi-firm cheese from eastern France. If you can't find comte, Gruyere is a good substitute.
> Ratatouille Gratin
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, sliced
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red bell pepper, cored and sliced
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 14 1/2 -ounce can chopped tomatoes, preferably fire-roasted, drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 small summer squash, sliced into thin rounds
2 small zucchini, sliced into thin rounds
2 Japanese eggplants, sliced into thin rounds
1 1/2 cups comte cheese
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large, deep skillet over medium, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic and bell pepper. Saute for 10 to 12 minutes, or until tender.
Add the basil, thyme, tomatoes, vinegar, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Spread a third of the tomato mixture over the bottom of a deep 10-inch pie pan or 2-quart casserole dish. Using a third of each vegetable, arrange one layer each of squash, zucchini and eggplant rounds over the tomato mixture, alternating vegetables and overlapping slightly. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the cheese over that. Repeat the layering in that order two more times, ending with cheese.
Bake for 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender when pierced with a knife. Increase the heat to broil and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes to lightly brown the top.