Heat a medium-sized cast iron skillet up on your stove. Add in the olive oil, thyme, and bay leaves. Crush the garlic, remove the skins, and add the whole cloves into the skillet as well. This is our base of ingredients that we will keep in there the entire time.
Over medium heat, sauté the onion in the olive oil, garlic, and herbs until just soft. Leave it with the teeniest bit of crunch.
Remove the onion to a place, reserving the thyme, bay leaves, and garlic in the pan.
Dice the peppers and toss them into the skillet. Add a bit more olive oil, if need be, to keep it all moist and sauté-like.
Remove the peppers when they’re still slightly crunchy and place atop the onions, reserving the thyme, bay leaves and garlic in the pan – once again. Are you catching onto the pattern?
Next, the eggplant. Diced and sauté. Eggplant has a tendency to soak up the olive oil, so add a bit more if need be. Don’t overcook the eggplant! Ain’t nobody like overcooked eggplant. Remove the eggplant and once again, repeat the same process with the zucchini.
And lastly, the tomatoes. Now, don’t forget this secret: SEED THE TOMATOES. Seeds are wet. Wet is soggy. Ratatouille should not be soggy.
Dice and sauté until slightly cooked. Spoon onto the rest of the vegetables, omitting the thyme stems and garlic cloves.
Let’s gently stir to bring it all together, shall we? Salt and pepper to taste. And then, we let it rest. Rest, ratatouille, rest.
Garnish with fresh thyme and freshly ground black pepper.