Classic Red Ratatouille on Pesto Garlic Toast

We're celebrating spring by using ALL OF THE VEGETABLES!  Now, at first glance this recipe may seem intimidating or time-consuming. It's not!  Once you've got everything chopped, simply sauté and simmer, allowing all the flavors to meld together. Enjoy this simple dish straight out of the bowl or served over pesto garlic toast.

1 eggplant, diced
1 onion, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 bell pepper, color of your choice, cut into strips
1 large bunch fresh basil, picked from stems
1 jar Classic Red Tomato Sauce
1 baguette
3 tablespoons + 1/3 cup olive oil
1-2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place a colander in a bowl. Toss the eggplant with a teaspoon of salt and set in colander to drain for 1/2 hour or so.

While eggplant drains, slice baguette lengthwise and place halves on a cookie sheet. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toast in oven until slightly brown, about 5-7 minutes. Meanwhile, roughly chop 3/4 of your basil. Place in a food processor or blender with 1/2 the parmesan cheese and a pinch each of salt & pepper. Drizzle olive oil in while blender's motor is running. Blend until combined. Remove baguette and allow to cool slightly. Rub generously with the garlic cloves. Spread the pesto onto the baguette halves and sprinkle with the remaining parmesan cheese. Pop back in oven until well toasted, about 7-10 minutes.

In a cast iron skillet or other heavy bottomed pot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat and add eggplant. Salt & pepper. Remove when nicely browned. Heat another tablespoon of olive oil and add onion. Salt & pepper and sauté for 4 minutes. Add remaining veggies and sauté five minutes. Add eggplant back in, along with your jar of Classic Red Tomato Sauce. Allow to simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve alongside the pesto garlic toast, topped with the remaining fresh basil.

Melissa Vitelli