There are about a million recipes (might be a slight exaggeration, frankly) for this dish online and, in my younger years, I’m sure that I used one of them. Since then, I’ve played with it and have changed it.
I added pancetta, the Italian version of bacon, but if you prefer meatless, then it’s fine to leave it out. It will not ruin the dish. This is normally a side dish, but I’ve actually served it as a main course over rice.
It can be served sprinkled with Reggiano Parmesan. It can also be served with a couple of dollops of Mascarpone cheese. The sweetness of the cheese goes nicely with the spicy complex of the dish. Give it a try.
5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz chopped pancetta
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 medium Vidalia onion, rough chopped
1 medium zucchini, rough chopped
1 medium yellow (summer) squash, rough chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded, cored and rough chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded, cored and rough chopped
1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into cubes*
1 tbsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can diced tomatoes with juice (14.5 oz can)
1/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Salt & pepper to taste
Reggiano parmesan or Mascarpone Cheese for serving
Heat up the evoo in a deep skillet and add the pancetta. Cook over medium heat until the pancetta crisps, moving it around the pan so that it cooks evenly. Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels. Add the minced garlic to the oil, and cook until slightly brown and the oil is infused. Be careful not to burn the garlic.
Next, add the onions, peppers, zucchini and summer squash. Cook for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the thyme and oregano and mix well. Cook for about another 2 minutes.
Add the chicken stock, wine, tomatoes and eggplant. Simmer uncovered for abut 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is a bit reduced. Add the pancetta, stir, and simmer for about another minute or two. Do a spice check here. Give it a taste. The pancetta is salty, so you may not need salt. The choice is yours. Add pepper, however, for sure.
Remove from the heat and serve with either the parmesan or Mascarpone.
*I “trim” my eggplant, which means cutting off the edges. I never peel my eggplant. But the choice is yours. It works either way.