This easy ratatouille recipe results in a deeply flavorful vegetable stew that pairs extremely well with meat or fish.
The best thing about this recipe is how you’re rewarded with a very tasty vegetable-based side dish that gets better in the fridge!
The only “difficult” part here is prepping the vegetables, and even that’s not truly difficult. It simply takes a little time and patience. I enlist my kids’ help, and we all do it together.
What is ratatouille?
It’s a Provençal vegetable stew. It usually contains eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic, and herbs.
The vegetables are cooked slowly in olive oil. The result is a hearty, comforting stew. It’s also very filling despite containing no major source of protein.
My version is a bit different
My version includes tomato paste, paprika, and cayenne, for a subtle kick. The result is a deeply flavorful, earthy vegetable dish that goes wonderfully with almost any meat or fish, especially grilled.
As you can see, it’s easy to make variations on the traditional recipe. You can, for example, make it without eggplant if you wish (some people deeply dislike eggplant).
You can use different herbs and spices (oregano would be wonderful here). And you can even make it with meat, adding cooked ground beef to the vegetable mixture.
The ingredients you’ll need
The list of ingredients to make this ratatouille recipe is quite long, but don’t let that deter you. The variety of vegetables, herbs, and spices is exactly what gives this dish its wonderful complexity of flavors and textures.
The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Vegetables: Eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, onion and garlic, bell pepper, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste
Olive oil: I love cooking with this delicious oil. But if you’d rather use an oil with a higher smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Fresh herbs: Thyme and basil. If you have leftover basil, you can use it to make this wonderful homemade pesto sauce.
Kosher salt and black pepper: If using fine salt, you should reduce the amount you use, or the dish could end up too salty.
Spices: Paprika and cayenne pepper. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
How to make ratatouille
Once you do the prep work and your vegetables are ready to cook, the cooking itself is a breeze. Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Salt the eggplant, the squash and the zucchini to draw some water out, then rinse and dry.
2. Simply cook everything in lots of olive oil, starting with the onions and bell peppers and gradually adding the remaining ingredients.
3. Allow the dish to slightly cool before serving. This dish is excellent when warm or at room temperature.
What to serve with it?
Sometimes, similarly to my hearty vegetable stew recipe, I like to serve this dish as a main course rather than as a side dish.
When I do, I like to top it with a couple of fried or poached eggs for a complete and satisfying meatless meal.
You can make it ahead of time
This is one of those recipes that taste better after a few hours, when all the flavors have had a chance to meld together.
So I often make it in the morning and refrigerate. Then at dinnertime, I divide it among our plates and microwave briefly, covered, on 50% power, just to bring it to room temperature.
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Easy Ratatouille Recipe
- 1 large eggplant, skin on (1 lb.)
- 2 medium yellow squashes (12 oz)
- 2 medium zucchini (12 oz)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt for salting the vegetables
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced (8 oz)
- 1 large red bell pepper, diced
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Slice the eggplant, the squashes and the zucchinis into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place on a tray and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Let stand 30 minutes to extract water out of the vegetables, then rinse and pat dry. Cut into a dice.
- Heat the olive oil in a very large, deep skillet over medium heat, 3-4 minutes.
- Add the onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add the bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 more minutes.
- Add the eggplant, zucchini, and squash. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 more minutes.
- Add the garlic, tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, basil, kosher salt, black pepper, paprika and cayenne and cook, stirring occasionally, until all vegetables are soft, 5-10 more minutes.
- Allow the ratatouille to cool 10 minutes before serving.