Mediterranean Vegetable Stew

2 T. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced (I used Vidalia)
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
12 tiny whole Yukon Gold potatoes
1 lb. eggplant, peeled and cut into chunks (or 1 lb. green beans)
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 green bell pepper, sliced into strips
3 fresh thyme or oregano sprigs
3 small zucchini, cut into 1″ chunks
1 14-1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes (or 3 to 4 chopped fresh tomatoes) and their juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh basil

Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onion and garlic and cook slowly until soft, about 10 minutes. Arrange potatoes on top of onions, then add the eggplant and peppers. Lightly salt layers. Add thyme sprigs. Add the zucchini and top with the tomatoes. Cover pot tightly. If you don’t have a tight-fitting lid, place a piece of aluminum foil over pot and then add lid.

Cook over very low heat for about 45 minutes, or until the vegetables are thoroughly cooked. Add water if there isn’t enough liquid. The vegetables should be “meltingly tender”.

Turn off heat and allow pot to cool slightly. Nancy says this dish is best just slightly warm, but I like it almost hot. Sprinkle with chopped basil and some grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

As with most stews, this is even better the next day. The eggplant and zucchini will begin to break apart, but that’s their nature. Go with the flow and smile. You’re doing a good thing for body and soul.