What is Ratatouille?
We know this classic Provencal dish got a big boost of popularity after the animated movie by the same name came out. How could one NOT be interested in the dish that Patton Oswalt’s Remy worked so hard on? And there is a lot to unpack about the significance of ratatouille in the movie- food, and class, and the evolution of a peasant dish. My goodness, this is not just a children’s movie, and I am going to watch it again, stat.
I was a fan of ratatouille before the movie, but also who doesn’t a reminder of one of the summer’s most lush ways to make use of seasonal produce?
Ratatouille: A rich and lush version of the summery Provencal dish (and we all need to watch the movie again).Tweet This
How to Make Ratatouille
There are quite a few ways to make ratatouille, and people who have made it for years tend to feel very invested in their method. There are stovetop stewing methods, oven-baked methods, grilling methods, and truly you can get to a great ratatouille using any of these cooking techniques. For year round ratatouille, or at least ratatouille that doesn’t require me going outside to grill, I like roasting the best. It’s the most hands-off, and the oven is the most efficient way of getting all of these beautiful vegetables evenly tender.
Preheat the oven. Salt the eggplant (see recipe for specifics!)
Place the onions on half of one of the sheet pans, drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and toss to coat. Spread out on half the sheet pan. Add the red and orange bell pepper to the other side of the sheet pan. Drizzle the peppers with two more tablespoons of the oil, toss and spread out. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
On the other sheet pan, toss the salted eggplant with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and on the other side the zucchini and summer squash with 2 more tablespoons of olive oil on the other side. Season with salt and pepper, add the garlic, and herb sprigs to the pan.
Roast the vegetables for 15 minutes, then add the tomatoes to the pans, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil, give a quick salt and pepper sprinkle. Roast for another 20 to 25 minutes, until all of the vegetables are tender and lightly browned in spots.
Let the vegetables cool for 5 minutes on the baking trays, then scrape them into a large bowl. Add the parsley and basil, and toss. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
Serve the ratatouille hot, warm, or at room temperature.
Cooking Vegetables for Ratatouille
Some classic ratatouille recipes call for each vegetable to be cooked separately, and then combined all at the end. The reasoning for this is that it preserves the flavor and visual appeal of each individual vegetable, so that even when they all get combined at the end, the result is a medley of distinct flavors and colors, rather than a blurred vegetable stew.
I think this high heat roasting method allows for the same results, without so much high-maintenance cooking. I also want each vegetable to have its own presence in the medley, but in the end they are all coming together into one dish, so I don’t think we need to be too precious about cooking them vegetables together.
If you are plating this up in a restaurant, like Remy was in the movie Ratatouille, perhaps you want to think a bit more about style and presentation. But for those of us craving a simpler version of this summer South of France vegetable dish, this is the way to go.
Herbs in Ratatouille
Fresh herbs are infinitely preferable for this seasonal vegetable explosion. If you don’t have those available, you can add a generous pinch of dried thyme and rosemary to each batch of the vegetables, and toss to combine (herbs de province is another classic Provencal herb blend to pair with ratatouille).
As for fresh herbs, if you use herbs sprigs it saves you pulling off the leaves, which is a little time consuming and tedious. They will do well in infusing the vegetables with flavor. Use other herbs if you prefer, like oregano, or marjoram. The smashed garlic will likewise add great flavor.
Vegan Ratatouille Recipe
Hooray! This is a naturally vegan dish as it is!
Roasting Vegetables for Ratatouille
The truth is that not all of these vegetables have the same cooking time. However, because this is a stew-like dish, you’re looking for the vegetables to be quite soft, and so if some of the vegetables are a bit “overcooked” by our typical roasted vegetable standards, that’s perfectly fine here. The satisfying texture of this dish is very comforting, and there will be plenty of texture as some of the vegetables will be quite soft (eggplant, tomatoes), while others will have some firmness and bite to them (onions, peppers).
What to Serve with Ratatouille:
- Roast Chicken
- Garlic and Lemon Tilapia
- Baked Cod
- Lemon Garlic Chicken Thighs
- Grilled Provencal Chicken and Peppers
- Lentil Salad
- Green Bean Nicoise Salad
Other Vegetarian Summer Recipes:
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How to Make Ratatouille
- 1 large eggplant (about 1 pound), trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt , plus more to taste
- 2 medium zucchini , trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 medium yellow or summer squash , trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 red bell pepper , cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 yellow or orange bell pepper , cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 large onions (any color), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 9 tablespoons olive oil , divided
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 medium ripe tomatoes (2 pounds total), cored, stemmed, and cut into 1-inch chunks
- 8 garlic cloves , crushed
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped parsley
- ½ cup thinly sliced (chiffonade) basil
- Preheat the oven to 450°F. Make sure you have one oven rack positioned in the bottom third of the oven, and one on the top third. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, if you have it, and either way spray them with nonstick cooking spray.
- Salt the eggplant: place half of the cubed eggplant in a colander, and sprinkle it with ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Scatter the rest of the eggplant over, then sprinkle with another ½ teaspoon salt, then use you hand to quickly toss the salted eggplant. Leave it sit in the sink place or over a bowl to catch the liquid, for 20 minutes. Turn the eggplant onto a clean dishtowel or paper towels and blot until fairly dry.
- While the eggplant is being salted, place the onions on half of one of the sheet pans, drizzle over 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and toss to coat. Spread out on half the sheet pan. Add the red and orange bell pepper to the other side of the sheet pan. Drizzle the peppers with two more tablespoons of the oil, toss and spread out to cover the second half of the sheet pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Do the same thing with the other sheet pan, on one half tossing the blotted dry eggplant with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and on the other side the zucchini and summer squash with 2 more tablespoons of olive oil on the other side. The vegetables should be a bit crowded, but still in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Tuck the smashed garlic cloves, and sprigs of thyme and rosemary will nilly amongst the vegetables, distributing them evenly.
- Roast the vegetables for 15 minutes, then remove the trays, give each tray a good stir, trying to keep the vegetables on their own sides of the baking sheets. Shove the eggplant over towards the peppers so that it opens up about a third of the space on the sheet pan. Add the tomatoes, to the space, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil, give a quick salt and pepper sprinkle. Return the baking sheets to the oven, but switch which rack they are being placed on. Roast for another 20 to 25 minutes, until all of the vegetables are tender and lightly browned in spots.
- Let the vegetables cool for 5 minutes on the baking trays, then scrape them into a large bowl. Add the parsley and basil, and toss. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.
- Serve the ratatouille hot, warm, or at room temperature.
The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.
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