Ratatouille

By Ann Fulton

Jump to recipe
A rustic, end-of-summer, vegetable stew that will make the most of a bounty of produce and can be enjoyed in so many ways.

With its roots in Provence, France (not the 2007 Pixar film!) ratatouille is a rustic, end-of-summer, vegetable stew that will make the most of a bounty of fresh produce and can be enjoyed in so many ways.

 

If you don’t like to chop, I give you permission to skip the following recipe. But before you stop reading… 

Consider that your time and effort will be greatly rewarded with a big pot of garden-fresh vegetable stew–otherwise known as ratatouille–which can be enjoyed in a variety of ways throughout the week ahead. 

Plus it freezes well. And even if you don’t think of a vegetable stew as your ideal side dish, you may be surprised by the variety of ways it can be enjoyed. 

The renowned stew hails from Provence, a region in France celebrated for its abundance of fresh produce. Traditionally considered a peasant stew, ratatouille was created by farmers who needed to make use of their harvest, which was ripening all at once and threatening to go bad. 

Ratatouille is commonly served alongside meat and fish entrees, and it can be served over rice as a meatless main dish. According to preference, the dish may eaten hot or at room temperature.

What is in ratatouille?

Many versions of ratatouille exist, both in terms of ingredients and method of preparation. Traditional elements, however, include tomato, zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper, garlic, onion, and some combination of herbs.

A rustic, end-of-summer, vegetable stew that will make the most of a bounty of produce and can be enjoyed in so many ways.

I like to stop cooking the ratatouille when it’s still a little soupy. That way, it’s perfect for spooning over a grain or enjoying as a simple stew, and it will thicken as it sits in the fridge overnight. 

The flavors most definitely meld and improve over time, so I’m always grateful for the big batch. Note that you may cut the recipe in half if a smaller quantity (or less chopping!) is preferred.  

With its origins as a peasant stew, ratatouille was meant to be practical, not pretty, especially if you’re someone who prefers the option of simmering this summertime classic into a thick, velvety stew. I remove the pot from the heat when the vegetables are quite tender but still maintain their integrity–with the hint of aforementioned soupiness. In the directions, I detail how to customize accordingly. 

A rustic, end-of-summer, vegetable stew that will make the most of a bounty of produce and can be enjoyed in so many ways.

As mentioned, the flavor of ratatouille improves over time, so a big batch can be reinvented throughout the week–and a neighbor or friend might be very happy to receive a container.

Ways to enjoy ratatouille:

  • Melt mozzarella cheese over top or sprinkle with grated Parmesan
  • Serve over rice, polenta, quinoa, or another grain of choice
  • Serve with crusty bread to mop up the flavorful juices
  • Top leftovers with an over easy or poached egg
  • Use ratatouille in a veggie lasagna…
  • Or as a pasta sauce
  • Fold into an omelet
  • Make sausage sandwiches and use ratatouille in place of the peppers and onions; melt cheese on top if desired
  • Stir in garbanzo or cannellini beans for a protein-rich vegan entree 
A rustic, end-of-summer, vegetable stew that will make the most of a bounty of produce and can be enjoyed in so many ways.

Ratatouille starts with a gloriously vibrant array of garden-fresh vegetables, but the colors become muted when cooked. Though the resulting dish may not be described as classically pretty, I think it’s beautiful in its own way! The yellow skin of summer squash and a sprinkle of fresh, green herbs will enhance visual appeal. 

 

Ratatouille
Yield: 2½+ quarts (10+ cups; recipe halves easily) 
Rustic, wholesome, and very versatile, this traditional Provencal dish offers a delicious way to make use of an abundance of summer produce.

If desired, add a pinch or two of red pepper flakes, and for most appeal, try to keep the dice close to a ½-inch.
Ingredients
  • 2 small to medium eggplants (about 1½ pounds)
  • 3 medium zucchini (about 1½ pounds; may use mix of zucchini and summer squash)
  • 1 large (or 2 small) yellow onions (about ½ pound)
  • 2 bell peppers, (about ½ pound; I like a mix of colors)
  • ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  •  Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced (or about 1½ tablespoons)
  • 4 cups grated or crushed tomatoes (canned or fresh; see notes)
  • 3 tablespoons (42g) tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley (or a mix of fresh basil and parsley)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) balsamic vinegar
  • Optional: ⅓ cup drained and rinsed capers or chopped olives (like pitted Kalamatas or your favorite green olives; may use a mix); a can of rinsed and drained cannellini or garbanzo beans
Instructions
  1. Trim off the ends of the eggplant and zucchini. Do not peel. Cut each into cubes measuring about ½ an inch. (There should be roughly 9 cups of eggplant cubes and 6 cups of zucchini.)
  2. Peel the onions and cut into ½-inch cubes. (There should be about 1½ cups.)
  3. Core and seed the bell peppers, and cut them into ½-inch pieces. (You’ll have about 2½ cups of these.)
  4. Heat ¼ cup of the oil in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven over high heat. Add the eggplant and zucchini. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon kosher salt and ½ teaspoon fresh black pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Cook, stirring, over high heat, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and stir to blend. Add the bay leaf and thyme along with another 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 minutes, stirring 2 or 3 times. Helpful hints: If you like your ratatouille to be really velvety and cooked down, you may continue to simmer until it reaches your desired texture. I like to stop when the veggies are very tender but still maintain their integrity. I also like the consistency to be a little soupy. This makes it delightful for scooping over cooked grains and also accounts for thickening that will occur as the ratatouille sits. If you prefer a thicker consistency, you may remove the lid during the latter part of the cooking time.
  6. Remove from the heat, and stir in the parsley, basil, balsamic vinegar, and optional olives, capers, and/or beans. Taste for seasoning. When using fresh tomatoes, I find that one more teaspoon of kosher salt is perfect for my family’s tastes. (Note that this is a big batch of veggies, and proper seasoning really makes them shine. That said, you may simply prefer less or need less if using canned tomatoes that contain salt, if you’re topping with cheese, or if using a finer grain table or sea salt.)
Notes

I like to grate vine-ripened tomatoes with a handheld grater right into my Pyrex quart measure (could use a mixing bowl). I grate until I’m left with a piece of skin in my hand, and then discard the skin. Optionally, you could use 4 cups of canned crushed tomatoes or even a mix of canned and fresh. When using fresh, the number of tomatoes needed will vary based on size. My last batch used six. Start with more than you need, weight-wise, as you will be discarding much of the skin. Optionally, you could use Roma or plum tomatoes, which tend to be less watery. This is fine. The desired thickness of the ratatouille can easily be adjusted in the cooking stage.

To freeze ratatouille, cool it completely and then transfer to an airtight container and freeze for 3 to 4 months.

The Fountain Avenue Kitchen https://fountainavenuekitchen.com/

The word ratatouille is derived from a French verb that means “to stir up.” Of course, the 2007 Pixar film Ratatouille may come to mind when you hear the word. Though the dish is served at the end of the film, the name also references the main character: a rat named Remy, who dreams of becoming a chef. 

As a funny aside, my older son John’s desire to get a hamster for Christmas one year morphed into pleas for a rat after my sister-in-law regaled him with stories about how smart and trainable they are. While I wasn’t thrilled with the idea, I figured that if I was willing to get him a hamster, I should be willing to get a rat. So that year, Macy appeared under the tree! 🤷‍♀️⬇

Macy the friendly rat

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments

  1. Trudy

    Love the Macy story! I miss you in the newspaper… but I love that you pop up in my emails. Trying ratatouille tonight with the beans, thanks for the recipe. Yours are always keepers.

    Reply
  2. Judy

    One of our favorites, usually topped with crumbled feta. When we spent the month of September, 2019, in Provence, we noticed a number of merchants in the markets would sell a bucket with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, onions and tomatoes together — a ratatouille collection!

    Reply
  3. LAURA

    I made this for dinner tonight and added some yellow patty pan squash to the combination of vegetables. Chose the capers option and was very happy with how this all turned out! We loved the flavors and the mix of garden vegetables, tomatoes, and herbs. Plan on adding the bean choice option to the leftovers tomorrow for another tasty meal. Thank you, Ann, for another keeper!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Laura, Patty pan squash is a great addition! I’m delighted you enjoyed the ratatouille and appreciate your comment. Enjoy those leftovers!

      Reply
  4. Jill Hampton

    This recipe is fantastic! I added beans, balsamic and capers and served it with rice and a few crispy crostini for dipping. Can’t wait to try it topped with an egg and some feta. We didn’t have quite enough fresh tomatoes so I cheated with 1 cup of canned fire roasted tomatoes since they were in my pantry. This is another delicious and healthy meal prep item for my elderly mom. Thank you!

    Reply
    1. Ann Post author

      Hi Jill, So happy to read your comment…which is making me hungry for a fresh batch! Thank you for your wonderful feedback with the helpful mention of using the canned tomatoes to augment the fresh.

      Reply