I do not claim to be French or Italian but love the food of both countries. This veggie stew is so versatile because you can use almost any summer vegetable you want. True caponata MUST have eggplant, true ratatouille MUST have zucchini, I mix in a little bit of this and a little bit of that and call it delicious. One of my sisters, who shall not be named, loves it so much she never has only one bowl. The recipe is super simple and makes us of all our homegrown produce.
Step 1: Cut up all your veggies to about the same size. Use whatever you have on hand, I've included: onions, garlic, romano beans, eggplant and summer squash. Other add-ins are: fresh carrots, zucchini, shallots, thicker/older green beans.
Step 2: Heat up a good amount of olive oil on medium heat, add veggies a little at a time until all have been added to a thick bottom pot like a dutch oven. Season with salt and pepper, saute all the veggies together until they are brown and caramelized. (You will see brown bits sticking to the bottom of your pan.) Add a squeeze or a tablespoon of tomato paste to the pot and saute with all the veggies, do not let the paste burn but do let it get brown.
Step 3: When the veggies are all browned, add 1-2 15 oz. can(s) of tomato product. It can be tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, crushed, or stewed tomatoes. Now the fun part, add a bit of cider vinegar (start with a couple tablespoons) and follow the vinegar with a bit of sugar (start with a couple teaspoons). This makes a wonderful agrodolce sauce that is lightly sweet and sour. After the stew comes to a boil, lower heat and cover. Simmer for 15-20 minutes then taste for seasonings. You can always add a sprig of bay leaf, thyme or rosemary at this time. Adjust the salt, vinegar and sugar to your taste. When all the veggies are al dente, remove the cover and turn the heat up to medium. Allow some of the sauce to reduce and then you are ready to eat! Buon appetito!