Serves 4 to 6
1 pound fresh shell beans, shelled (see Kitchen Notes*) or one 15-ounce can pinto beans
2 to 3 sprigs fresh thyme, divided
1 bay leaf if using fresh beans
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2-½ teaspoons sea or kosher salt, or to taste (see Kitchen Notes**)
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium red onions, chopped
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 pound plum tomatoes (5 to 6), cored, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 each red and yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large sprig fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 pound small zucchini, diced
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup dry red wine
1. If using fresh beans, place in a pot with 1 thyme sprig, bay leaf and water to cover by ½ inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until just tender, about 15 minutes. (Add a little more water if needed to keep beans covered.) Season with ½ teaspoon salt and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes longer. Drain beans (reserve their liquid for soup if desired) and discard thyme and bay leaf.
2. In a large heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium-high until shimmering. Add onions, 2 teaspoons salt and cumin; cook, stirring, until onions are soft but not browned, about 10 minutes.
3. Add tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, parsley and remaining thyme sprigs. Stir to combine, cover, and simmer 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in zucchini, garlic, red pepper flakes, wine and drained or canned beans. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.
4. Transfer ratatouille to a large bowl, then set a large strainer over pot and pour ratatouille into it; remove herbs. Let drain 10 minutes, then shake strainer to release as much liquid as possible into the pot. Return the ratatouille to the bowl.
5. Bring strained liquid to a simmer over high heat and simmer about 5 minutes or until reduced to a glaze or about 1/3 liquid. Use a rubber spatula to scrape liquid into ratatouille and stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Times Kitchen Notes:
* When in season, fresh shell beans such as cranberry or fava can be used.
**We’d recommend cutting the amount of salt by half, then adding more to taste.
From “The Flexitarian Table: Inspired, Flexible Meals for Vegetarians, Meat Lovers, and Everyone in Between” by Peter Berley