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Pan-Fried Sardines With Micro Ratatouille

1. Prepare ratatouille: Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Heat large skillet to medium-high heat. Pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil, then carefully place tomatoes in skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Gently shake pan to keep tomatoes moving, but allow tomatoes to blister, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and herbs to pan, then place pan in oven for 5-7 minutes or until tomatoes are shriveled. Drain the excess oil, set aside and use to roast eggplant. This step may be done up to two days ahead.

2. Toss the diced eggplant in salt and set aside. Pat dry, then toss the eggplant in the reserved oil from the roasted tomatoes. Roast in a hot, 425-degree oven until brown and slightly dry.

3. Toss the diced fennel in olive oil and saute quickly in a hot pan. Set aside.

4. Toss the diced zucchini and yellow squash in more olive oil and saute quickly in a hot pan. (Note: Do not crowd the pan, because the pieces will sweat instead of searing.) Set aside.

5. Sweat the diced shallots, then add the garlic. Stir in the roasted tomatoes and the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the other ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Set aside.

6. Prepare sardines: Pat fish dry, and season with salt and pepper. Heat skillet to medium high heat and add canola oil. Carefully place fish in pan with fresh thyme and garlic, flip after 2 minutes or when brown. Brown on opposite side for 2 additional minutes.

7. Putting it all together: Divide the ratatouille on six plates and arrange two fish fillets on top. Garnish with fennel fronds and grilled lemon rounds.

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Carla Hall