Ratatouille is a famously delicious French vegetable stew that contains eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers and herbs simmered in richly spiced tomato sauce. This exceptional French Provençal dish should be a staple for every home chef but many ratatouille recipes are overly complicated and time consuming.
For those of us who want ratatouille in our regular dinner rotation, here's an extremely easy, no-fail ratatouille recipe that's so good it's the only ratatouille recipe you will ever need!
It was back in the 1700s in the French countryside that ratatouille came to be, a rustic stew that Provençal farmers made from leftover vegetables and herbs to create a cheap and affordable meal.
From its humble beginnings, this hearty dish eventually found its place on French restaurant menus and ultimately has become known and beloved worldwide.
Ratatouille is rich and comforting with a winning combination of vibrant sweet peppers, sweet tangy tomatoes, savory eggplant and zucchini along with bright fresh herbs, making a hearty and extremely flavorful vegetable stew.
You've got to love a recipe that turns simple vegetables into such an irresistibly delicious dish!
The best easy ratatouille recipe
There is no set way to make ratatouille - everyone does it a little differently. Some cooks sauté the vegetables first and then roast them, others roast the veggies first and then stew them. Still others slice the eggplant and zucchini into perfect rounds and line them up in a casserole dish in concentric circles.
And then there's Julia Child's famous ratatouille recipe in Mastering The Art of French Cooking that instructs you to cook each type of vegetable separately before combining them in a casserole. Amazing but it takes a long time.
Though I've enjoyed many different ratatouille recipes over the years, this recipe has become my one and only because it makes extremely good ratatouille and it's easy. No salting of the eggplant, no pre-roasting, no fussy arrangement of veggies.
This recipe will take you about 30 minutes to prep and then the stew will continue to simmer for an additional 30 minutes. All the excitement happens in one pot so clean-up is a breeze.
Ingredients for ratatouille
Here's what you'll need:
- Eggplant, zucchini and bell peppers - these are the staple vegetables of ratatouille. They create the substance of this stew.
- Olive oil - the oil of choice for sautéing the vegetables with the added benefit of adding rich fruity olive flavor to the stew.
- Onions and garlic - these aromatic vegetables are essential flavor-building ingredients of ratatouille.
- Tomato puree and tomato paste - The best canned tomatoes = the best ratatouille. I recommend San Marzano D.O.P tomatoes. For the best quality and flavor, buy canned whole tomatoes and puree them yourself.
- Fresh thyme - a delightful earthy, minty, woodsy, punchy flavor component of this rustic vegetable stew.
- Salt, pepper, bay leaf and herbs de Provence - The classic seasonings for ratatouille.
- Capers - while olives are more traditional than capers for classic French ratatouille, I prefer capers. They add just the right touch of salt and acid to brighten this dish without overpowering the delicate sweet flavors of the vegetables.
How to cut eggplant for ratatouille
There are two effective methods for cutting eggplants into cubes.
Method one: Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise, then cut each half into long 1-inch wide strips. Then cut each strip crosswise into 1-inch cubes.
Method two: Slice the eggplant crosswise into 1-inch thick rounds. Lay each round on a cutting board and slice into 1-inch cubes.
How to make ratatouille
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy lidded pot or dutch oven and sauté the eggplant and zucchini for about five minutes, just until the veggies begin to soften.
Add the peppers, onions and garlic to the pot and cook, stirring, for a few minutes longer.
Add the tomato puree and the tomato paste and give it all a good stir.
Add the fresh thyme, herbs de Provence, bayleaf, salt, pepper and capers and gently stir to combine all of the ingredients.
Cover the pot, and simmer gently for 25-30 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and all the delicious flavors have melded.
When you're wondering what to make for dinner, don't forget about ratatouille. It can be the foundation for a delicious meal.
How to serve ratatouille:
- As a fantastic vegetarian main dish - scoop a generous portion of ratatouille onto a plate and top with a fried or poached egg. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt and chopped fresh herbs. Yum!
- As a hearty vegan main dish with crusty bread to soak up all the delicious sauce.
- As a side dish with roasted chicken, grilled meat or fish.
- As a filling for omelettes - Add gruyere cheese or goat cheese and some fresh herbs such as chives, tarragon or parsley.
- As a primavera sauce for pasta - sprinkle with fresh slivered basil and parmesan cheese for a tasty finishing touch.
- As a bruschetta appetizer - spread a thin layer of goat cheese on crostini and top with ratatouille.
- To accompany pan-seared or broiled salmon - One of my favorite weeknight dinners! Every bite is comforting, delicious and nutritious, and nobody misses the carbs. While the ratatouille is simmering there's plenty of time to set the table and cook the salmon.
I can't write about ratatouille, the dish without referencing Ratatouille, the movie. Remy the rat and French chef extraordinaire drew the world's attention to this amazing dish. If you want to get fancy with your ratatouille, check out this recipe from a blogger who did a great job recreating Remy's gorgeous rainbow ratatouille.
If you try this easy ratatouille recipe, I hope you'll come back to leave a star rating and comment. I'd love to know what you think.Print
This recipe was first published on October 2, 2018. It has been updated with clearer recipe instructions and addition helpful information added to the post.