More on Ratatouille
I'm going to have to retract that.
For reasons I can't exactly articulate, I followed the directions in The Gourmet Magazine Cookbook in my most recent ratatouille endeavor. I cooked the tomatoes, garlic, and spices first. Then I peeled, rinsed, chopped, and strained the eggplant (I still don't quite understand this step). I cooked in a skillet in separate stages onions, peppers, zucchini, and eggplants--adding, as per the Gourmet recipe, olive oil each time. Finally, all of these individually cooked ingredients were added to to the tomato sauce and then stewed for an hour.
What was gained with all this bother: the flavors of pepper! and eggplant! were much more perceptible. And the bits were more recognizable and socially acceptable.
Upshot: if you're cooking ratatouille for company, or if you're cooking great quantities of ratatouille, it might really be worth cooking the ingredients separately. Still--don't let the bother dissuade you from making and enjoying this wonderful, healthy, and versitile dish: the easier version in the above link is also delicious.