WARNING: This recipe takes a long time. There's just no way to avoid it; you'll need a couple of hours. However, most of that time is spent sauteing, so can do other kitchen chores during the cooking. In addition, making a double batch doesn't really take more time, so at the two hours of work leaves you with about a gallon of food. In my household this equals at least three dinners, plus one or two stashed in the freezer.
Now, the good news. This recipes is rich, with many ingredients cooked separately in lots of olive oil, and only combined at the end. This means that you can taste distinct pepper and tomato flavors, but it all adds up to something extraordinary. And you can eat it for three meals in a week because there are so many ways to change it up. We eat it on top of pasta, or cooked on a pizza crust. You can also put it on puff pastry, use it as an omelet filling, or top it with fish or chicken. Sometimes I add Parmesan or goat cheese.
With no further ado, assemble these ingredients:
9 T. olive oil
1 pound eggplant, cut into 1/2" chunks
1 medium oniono thinly sliced
2 t. chopped fresh thyme
1 pound red or green bell peppers, cut into 3/4" chunks
2 t. chopped fresh rosemary
1 pound zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices
1/4 cup chopped garlic (6-8 cloves)
1 pound tomatoes, cut into 1" chunks
1 T. lemon juice
A few drops of hot sauce
1 t. basil, thinly sliced
2 T. chopped parsley
Toss the eggplant with salt and let it drain in a colander while you chop everything else. Now you're going to cook all the veggies, one at a time, each with 1 T. oil and a sprinkle of salt. When each is cooked, add in the corresponding fresh herb, then scrape it all into a bowl.
First, the onions on medium heat for 15-20 minutes, until deep brown. Add the thyme at the end:
Next, the peppers on medium high, until they start to brown (5 minutes), then another 10-15 minutes on lower heat until soft. Add the rosemary at the end:
The zucchini is cooked on high heat, so that it browns in 5-7 minutes. (No herbs for this one.)
Next, blot the eggplant and cook it in 3 T. oil on medium heat. They should be a bit browned. I don't have a picture for this part, because the last time I was cooking this I was making it for someone allergic to eggplant. So you'll have to use your imagination.
Lastly, on medium-high heat, cook the garlic for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes for 3-5 minutes:
Now you should have all the veggies dumped into a big bowl. If you have time, drain everything in a colander set in a bowl, and then boil down the 1/2 cup of liquid you get to about 1/4 cup and add it back in. Season to taste with the basil, parsley, hot sauce, and lemon juice. (Those last two ingredients are critical.) You'll get this:
Otherwise known as summer in a bowl.
Cheats that you can get away with: (1) Adding all the chopped herbs at once, at the end. (2) Leaving out 1 or 2 fresh herbs because you're missing them. Cheats you can't get away with: (1) Trying to cook more than one veggie at a time. (2) Using all dried herbs or leaving out the fresh lemon juice.