For anyone who has seen Ratatouille, let me quickly say that this is not a recipe for the time-consuming and intricate dish made to save the day at the end of the film. This recipe is more concerned with flavor building with ease than it is with making sure each vegetable is cut to the same thickness and width. It is best served as a hearty side dish or can be served as a full meal when paired with rice or couscous. Letting the purists gasp, I also like to pile a spoonful of this ratatouille on top of a sliced, toasted baguette for a warm, French-inspired bruschetta.
Combine the tomatoes, parsley, basil, and garlic in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and mix together.
In a medium-sized saucepot over medium-low heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and then add the tomato mixture. Let simmer, covered, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, put the onion into a medium saucepan with a teaspoon of olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions until they appear translucent and soft, about 5-7 minutes. Then, remove from the pan and place in a bowl to the side.
In the same pan you used for the onions, add another teaspoon of olive oil and the zucchini. Cook until tender. Then, add to onions off to the side. Add another drizzle of olive oil and your eggplant into the pan. Cook until soft — usually 8-10 minutes depending on how long the pan has been over heat.
Add eggplant to the bowl with the onions and zucchini, sprinkling salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Add vegetables to the tomato base and mix well. Add chili powder, if using, and let sit, stirring occasionally, for another 6 or 7 minutes. Season again as needed.
Take your chunky, aromatic ratatouille off the heat and let sit before serving.