Ratatouille is a rich vegetable medley devised by housewives in the south of France to transform the goods of a teeming garden into premier table fare. We like it served with Cheesy Polenta, but purchased polenta or cooked rice stands in nicely.
Prepare Cheesy Polenta or, if using, purchased polenta or rice according to package directions. Cover and keep warm.
Meanwhile, in a 4-quart pot cook sweet pepper, onion, and garlic in hot oil over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add eggplant; cook 5 minutes more, stirring frequently. Stir in summer squash or zucchini, tomato, snipped basil, salt, and pepper. Cover and cook for 5 to 7 minutes more or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley.
To serve, top warm polenta or rice with ratatouille mixture. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over each serving and garnish each serving with flowering basil, if desired. Makes 4 main-dish servings.
In a large saucepan bring 2-3/4 cups water to boiling. In a bowl combine 1 cup cornmeal, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 cup cold water. Slowly add cornmeal mixture to boiling water in saucepan, stirring constantly. Cook and stir until mixture returns to boiling. Add 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese; cook, uncovered, over low heat about 5 minutes or until thick, stirring occasionally. Makes 3 cups.