Having discovered that it is possible to cook aubergines, part frying and part grilling them, in a heavy, covered pan, I am even less inclined to cook ratatouille in the traditional manner, which involves frying each ingredient separately before merging them all for a brief simmer with a modest portion of tomatoes.
2 onions, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 medium aubergines, cubed
3 red peppers, deseeded and cut into fork-sized pieces
2 large tomatoes, dunked in boiling water for 20 seconds, peeled, chopped
3 courgettes, sliced
Over a gentle heat, warm about 3tbsp of the oil in a heavy pan with a lid. As you chop the onions, garlic, aubergines, and peppers, throw them into the pan, stirring. Add about half a tsp of salt. Cover the pan, stir the vegetables regularly as they cook, and add more oil if they threaten to stick – but the onions and the peppers should give off liquid.
As the vegetables soften, you can uncover the pan, and turn up the heat if necessary to encourage the liquid to evaporate.
The length of time this process will take is variable. It may be no more than 20 to 25 minutes; it may be 40. You do not want the vegetables to merge into a mush, but to retain their identities.
Now add the courgettes, which should soften in about five minutes.
Meanwhile, in a separate pan, simmer the chopped tomatoes until thick.
Add the tomatoes to the other vegetables, and simmer for about five minutes. Check the seasoning.
This is best served at room temperature, in my view. But hot or warm are fine, too.