This easy ratatouille recipe is low on preparation but high in flavor

Easy Ratatouille Recipe

By: Sara Tercero

Thanks to the beloved children's movie, ratatouille has become one of the best-known and widely enjoyed vegetarian recipes in the world. This easy stovetop ratatouille is a quick, one-skillet recipe that is low on prep time but high in flavor. The old-world fragrance wafting through your home while the garlic and tomatoes are cooking will transport you to another time. And the depth of flavor produced from stewing the garden-fresh vegetables will have you turning to this recipe time and time again.

What is ratatouille?

Ratatouille is a hearty and rustic vegetable stew. It usually consists of fresh eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes, slow cooked with aromatic garlic, onions, herbs such as thyme and fresh basil, and olive oil. Depending on the recipe, it can be baked in the oven or made on a stovetop. Both methods involve slow-cooking the vegetables until the flavors meld into a fragrant stew. This easy ratatouille recipe employs the stovetop method to produce a quick and easy vegetable stew that does not skimp on flavor.

Where did ratatouille originate?

Ratatouille is believed to have originated in France in the Provence and Nice regions. It was originally considered a peasant dish, as it contained vegetables that were often homegrown or inexpensive, and often included vegetable scraps. Ironically, it has become one of the best-known and loved recipes in the world. Similar dishes exist in many cultures, but few have been as revered and elevated to iconic status as the French ratatouille.

Does ratatouille taste good?

Ratatouille has an exquisite flavor profile. The slow-stewed tomatoes with health-boosting garlic and onions, combined with the silky soft eggplant, fresh zucchini, peppers and herbs, produce a magnificent dish. While it is cooking, it fills your home with an intoxicating odor. You will fall in love with this ratatouille recipe! From the tomatoes cooked in the aromatic garlic, onions, and herbs de provence comes a flavor that is both rustic and inspired. This is not simply vegetables stewed in tomato sauce; it is divine. The fresh pop of herbs at the end really elevates the different flavors.

Is ratatouille vegan?

Baked ratatouille is a dish that is "accidentally vegan." Because it is a recipe that involves using the vegetables that grow copiously in the garden, vegetables take center stage. The traditional ratatouille recipe originated as a peasant dish, so it did not include expensive or hard-to-get ingredients like meat and dairy. Most serve ratatouille with some sort of a carb, like rice, pasta or potatoes. Try serving it with some crusty bread and some salad or fruit for an ideal light summer meal. Adding a protein to the dish or having a protein source on your plate creates a well-rounded meal and promotes fullness. This recipe will certainly grace my vegan table several times this summer as I harvest my garden bounty.

How to make ratatouille: Step-by-step recipe

The ingredients for this easy ratatouille recipe are humble and easy to find. I choose to use two kinds of eggplant for visual interest, but if graffiti eggplant is not available, feel free to substitute with another type. Likewise, if summer squash or yellow squash are abundant and zucchini is not, feel free to substitute. I use a combination of kumato and campari tomatoes because I love their flavor profiles, but during the summer, I will use Roma tomatoes or whatever comes out of the garden.

Ingredients

  • 2 baby eggplants, cut in bite-sized chunks
  • 1 graffiti eggplant, cut in bite-sized chunks
  • 8 small tomatoes, cut small
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 red baby bell peppers, seeded and diced
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp herbs de provence (a seasoning medley of thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf)
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley
  • 2 small sprigs of dill

Preparation

This easy ratatouille is a simple, one-pot, veggie dish. When following these steps precisely, you will have a tasty, gluten-free ratatouille that will wow your friends and family. Please do not skip the first step, as this will make a big difference in the flavor of the eggplant.

  1. First cut the eggplant in bite-sized pieces and sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt. Let it sit for 10 minutes to sweat out any bitter juices and then give it a good rinse and pat dry. Chop the other ingredients during the waiting time.
  2. Then, in a large deep skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and fry the onions for 4 minutes, stirring often, until very fragrant. Then add the garlic and fry 3 more minutes. The onions will begin browning, and the garlic will have some golden color and smell delicious.
  3. Add bell peppers and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
  4. Add the eggplant to the pan, season with half of the salt and pepper, stir, then cover the pan for 5 minutes.
  5. Stir, then add the tomatoes and the rest of the salt and black pepper, stir and cover again for 5 minutes.
  6. Add the zucchini and herbs de provence and cover. Turn the heat to low and simmer an additional 10 minutes.
  7. Last, add the fresh herbs and stir. This recipe makes 5 servings.

Nutrition facts

Per serving
Sodium: 245 mg
Calcium: 44 mg
Vitamin C: 58 mg
Vitamin A: 1870 IU
Sugar: 11 g
Fiber: 8 g
Potassium: 767 mg
Calories: 159 kcal
Monounsaturated Fat: 6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 1 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Fat: 9 g
Protein: 3 g
Carbohydrates: 20 g
Iron: 1 mg

Hearty ratatouille recipe tips for success

How long should ratatouille cook?

For maximum flavor, ratatouille should cook for a minimum of 45 minutes and as long as 90 minutes. Since I enjoy having some integrity left in my vegetables, I prefer to cook on the shorter side. However, to produce the rich depth of flavor that is customary in any ratatouille recipe, you must cook at least 45 minutes.

How to tell when ratatouille is done

When ratatouille is done, the tomatoes, garlic and onions will have cooked down to a rich sauce, and the eggplant will be silky smooth in texture. It will be stew-like in consistency, and it will smell incredible.

Can ratatouille be frozen?

This recipe is convenient for using up summer's copious easy-to-grow vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes. And one of the great things about ratatouille is that it can be sealed in an airtight container and frozen for up to 3 months, which makes it an ideal recipe to make in big batches.

Can ratatouille have meat in it?

If you would like to add meat to ratatouille, that is a viable option. I would recommend ground beef, bacon or sausage as meats that would cook well. Add the meat between steps 2 and 3 of the recipe. Meat will add 10-15 minutes onto the total time. Alternately, you could add a can of chickpeas for a plant-based protein.

Is ratatouille healthy for you?

With its abundance of tomatoes and colorful vegetables, ratatouille delivers plenty of vitamins and nutrients. The herbs and spices not only add flavor but also benefit our health. This recipe is low in calories and high in fiber, vitamin A, and potassium. It also has plenty of immune-boosting garlic. The olive oil in this recipe has healthy fat and polyphenol content, plus it can help you absorb the fat-soluble vitamins in your other ingredients. In addition, cooking increases the antioxidant activity of lycopene in tomatoes, magnifying its health benefits.

Do you get enough lycopene from the ratatouille?

Ratatouille is high in lycopene, which is an antioxidant that protects your body against oxidative stress. Lycopene is prevalent in tomatoes, bell peppers and onions, and it is considered an important nutrient for longevity because of its many beneficial effects on human health.

To get enough lycopene daily, you should eat a varied diet that is rich in fruit and vegetable sources. A lycopene supplement can help fill any dietary gaps and help support both prostate and cardiovascular health. Lycopene also promotes a healthy inflammatory response, helps maintain already healthy blood pressure, and encourages healthy cell proliferation. That makes this nutrient good for your whole body.

Not sure if you need to supplement? Life Extension's essential vitamins and mineral quiz can help you pinpoint where you might need nutritional help!

About the Author: Sara Tercero is the chef behind the popular food blog BetterFoodGuru and the author of the cookbook Plant-Based Diet in 30 Days. Her specialties are veganized Indian-inspired curries, giant rainbow salads, and healthier Mediterranean and Mexican-inspired dishes. It is Sara's mission to prove that plants are delicious and to help others cook and eat their way to health and happiness.

Website: https://betterfoodguru.com

References

Scientifically Reviewed By: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N

By: Sara Tercero