Ratatouille is a classic French vegetable stew made with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes. It is a hearty and healthy dish that is rich in flavor, gluten-free, vegetarian, and absolutely delicious!
What is Ratatouille?
Ratatouille is a vegetable stew that originates from Provence, a region in France, known for incredibly balanced recipes and fresh produce. It is made with fresh eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes, that are simmered with spices and olive oil to develop a rich, flavorful stew.
You will occasionally see Ratatouille recipes made into fancy layered casseroles, but classically this recipe is a peasant stew, and that is exactly how I make Ratatouille myself.
My recipe for Ratatouille does feature one untraditional ingredient, green olives. I learned this trick from my mom. The olives add a bit of tang and acidity and I simply love the addition.
While Ratatouille does involve many steps and needs time to simmer, nothing is complicated and the labor required transforms humble ingredients into something spectacular!
- Eggplant: Select an eggplant that is small, shiny, and feels heavy for its size. The smaller the eggplant, the less bitter it tends to be.
- Tomatoes: Fresh tomatoes, like cherry tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, or roma tomatoes are best, but canned whole tomatoes or diced tomatoes will work in a bind.
- Garlic and Onions: There are few dishes that don't benefit from garlic and onions, and Ratatouille is no exception.
- Bell Peppers: Any variety or combination of red, yellow, or green bell peppers.
- Zucchini: Feel free to use yellow squash in place of zucchini or use a mixture of the two. Note: If your zucchini or yellow squash are quite large, you may want to remove the seeds before dicing and adding to the Ratatouille to prevent the stew from becoming watery.
- Olives: Green olives give this ratatouille recipe so much tang and flavor, but they are not traditional so feel free to omit. I have also used Kalamata olives with delicious results.
- Olive Oil: Be sure to use really good quality olive oil, as it is one of the key flavors in ratatouille.
- Herbs: Dried oregano, a bay leaf, and a pinch of red pepper flakes allow a depth of flavor to be developed as this eggplant stew cooks. Feel free to finish with fresh basil ribbons.
How to Make Ratatouille
Step One: Prepare the Eggplant
Salting eggplant is crucial to ridding it of its natural bitterness. Do NOT skip this step.
- Peel and dice the eggplant into ½ inch cubes.
- Place the cubed eggplant on a drying rack over a cookie sheet or into a colander and sprinkle the diced eggplant generously with salt.
- Let the eggplant sit for 30 to 60 minutes.
- After salting, rinse the salt off the eggplant and pat dry.
Step Two: Prepare Tomatoes
If you opt to use cherry or grape tomatoes, you simply need to slice the tomatoes in half before adding them to the stew. However, if you are using Roma or Vine-Ripe tomatoes, it is best to skin the tomatoes and remove the majority of the seeds for the best texture in the final stew.
- To skin the tomatoes, score the top of each tomato with an "x." Place the scored tomatoes into boiling water for 10 seconds and then immediately into an ice bath. The skin will peel right off.
- Cut the tomatoes in quarters and squeeze out seeds over the sink. Don't worry if a few seeds remain!
- Coarsely chop the tomatoes into ½ inch to 1-inch chunks.
Step Three: Prepare Ratatouille
- Heat oil in large dutch oven or heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Add in onion and saute for 5 minutes, or until the onions begin to soften.
- Add in the garlic and dried oregano and saute for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add the rinsed eggplant, seeded tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, olives, salt, bay leaf, pinch of red pepper flakes.
- Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently, and then reduce heat to a medium-low and cover. Simmer covered for 45 minutes, stirring occassionally.
- Remove the lid and turn up the heat to medium. Cook for 15 additional minutes to reduce the liquid.
- Taste the vegetable stew and season with additional salt and pepper if desired.
- Serve with fresh basil and an additional drizzle of olive oil, if desired.
Ratatouille is incredibly versatile and can be served in a variety of ways.
- Serve as a stew with Dutch Oven Bread with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt for creaminess if desired.
- Serve over rice, pasta, or polenta for a hearty sauce and a more substantial meal.
- I also love leftover cold Ratouille served on toasted Italian Bread.
Yes! Skipping the step of salting the eggplant will cause the ratatouille to be a bit sour, bitter, and the texture to be off. In fact, if you think you don't like eggplant, you may have not had it prepared correctly--which makes a world of difference.
If you opt to use cherry or grape tomatoes, you simply need to slice the tomatoes in half before adding them to the stew. However, if you are using Roma or vine-ripened tomatoes, it is best to skin the tomatoes and remove the majority of the seeds for the best texture in the final stew.
You can store leftover Ratatouille in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Just as most stews and chilis, the flavor intensifies as it sits.
More Summer Produce Recipes
- Instant Pot Corn on the Cob
- Caprese Salad
- Zucchini and Squash Saute
- Eggplant Parmesan
- Italian Baked Vegetables
- Grilled Vegetable Kabobs
This easy recipe for Ratatouille makes a great summer meal that is filled with nutrients and flavor. I would love for you to leave a comment and review if you gave this Ratatouille a try!
- 1 eggplant peeled and diced into ½ inch cubes
- 4 large tomatoes seeded, peeled, and chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil plus additional for serving
- 1 large onion sliced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 bell peppers cut into ½ inch chunks
- 3 cups zucchini and/or yellow squash sliced into ½ inch slices
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup Spanish Green Olives sliced in half
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes optional
- Peel and dice eggplant into ½ inch cubes. Place eggplant in colander or over cooking rack and generously sprinkle with kosher salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to 1 hour and then rinse well and pat dry.
- For larger tomatoes, you need to skin the tomatoes. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Score the top of the tomatoes by cutting an "X" on the top of the tomato. Drop tomatoes into boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove tomatoes from water and place into ice bath. Once cooled, remove tomatoes from ice bath skin should peel off easily. Cut tomatoes open and gently squeeze out seeds over the garbage or sink. Coarsely chop tomatoes. NOTE: Skip this step if using canned tomatoes, or cherry/grape tomatoes. Instead, simply cut the grape or cherry tomatoes in half.
- Heat oil in large dutch oven or sauce pan over medium heat. Add in onion and saute for 5-7 minutes, or until onions have softened.
- Add in oregano and garlic and saute for 1-2 minutes longer.
- Add in zucchini, peppers, prepared eggplant, prepared tomatoes, olives, bay leaf, red pepper flakes (if using), oregano, and salt.
- Simmer covered for about 45 minutes. Remove lid and turn up the heat to medium and allow to cook for 15 additional minutes to reduce liquid.
- Taste and adjust seasonings with additional salt and pepper if desired
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil.
This post was originally published in 2015 but was updated in 2021 with new tips.