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Ratatouille Recipe – French summer vegetable stew

17 September 2018 | Last Updated: 8 September 2019

Delicious French vegetable stew, made from fresh summer vegetables. Tastes amazing on its own, with a crunchy baguette with salted butter. Alternatively, you could make a ratatouille with poached eggs or ratatouille-filled pancakes – cheesy vegetable crepes! This stew is rustic, aromatic and simple to make. Two preparation methods are most common and below you’ll find a recipe for both of them.

Ratatouille in a pot and a fried egg in a pan on the side

WHAT IS RATATOUILLE?

Ratatouille is a French stew, made from the most delicious summer vegetables. It comes from the Provence region and originated most likely in Nice. The word ratatouille comes from the old French word ‘to stir’.

Provencal ratatouille is really very simple to make and so tasty. After all, if we make a stew from ripe, delicious vegetables, harvested at the peak of their season, add a lot of good olive oil and aromatic herbs – it must be good.

ratatouille ingredients

FRENCH RATATOUILLE INGREDIENTS:

Traditional ratatouille is made of eggplants/aubergine, zucchini/courgette, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, garlic, and herbs. The most important are eggplants, Julia Child in her book ‘Mastering the Art of French cooking‘ called this stew an ”eggplant casserole”. I like it most when the vegetables are in more or less equal proportions.

Do I need to peel eggplant for ratatouille? No, I personally don’t feel the need to peel the eggplants. You can peel the eggplants before cooking if you don’t like its skin. Choose fresh eggplants, that have a shining and firm skin. The skin of wrinkled, old eggplants will be tough after cooking, so if you’ve bought such eggplants – you can peel them.

SUBSTITUTIONS:

If you don’t like any of the listed vegetables, you can omit them and replace with the ones you like. This recipe is very forgiving.

two pots with Ratatouille, fried egg in a pan, slices of bread with butter

You can find two types of Provencal ratatouille:

  1. Simpler and more common (especially in France) traditional ratatouille recipe resembles a stew, vegetables are in smaller chunks and are stewed for a longer period of time. This results in creamy soft vegetables, that have an almost jammy consistency. This version is very simple and quick to prepare.
  2. The second variation, preferred by professional chefs and outside France, resembles more pan-fried vegetables. The preparation takes more time as each vegetable is pan-fried separately, then all the vegetables are stewed together but for a shorter period of time. The vegetables retain their shape and are slightly crunchy.

I like both versions and believe that each has its own advantages. The stewed version is ideal as a bruschetta topping or as a side dish. Long stewing results in excellent flavor development, adds complexity and depth. The creamy consistency of the vegetables is lovely, this is what distinguished this dish from other vegetable stews. The pan-fried version is also very tasty. The vegetables are more fresh-tasting and firm, slightly crunchy, and thanks to the browning part – more flavorful.

a close up shot on ratatouille

HOW TO SERVE RATATOUILLE:

  • Simply as a main course, served with crusty baguette with salted butter to mop in the juices.
  • It can also be served as a base for other dishes – for example, this recipe for ratatouille with poached eggs. You can eat it for lunch/dinner or for breakfast. This is my favorite way to serve Ratatouille. The eggs are poached (can also be baked) in the stew until the egg whites are set but the egg yolks still runny. It’s very similar to middle-eastern Shakshuka. For this recipe, it is better to make the stewed version of ratatouille.
  • Ratatouille recipe with meat: serve the stew ss a side dish, with pan-fried chicken breast and pasta, for example, egg tagliatelle.
  • As a casserole. There’s a well-known animated movie called ‘Ratatouille’, where Remy the Rat chooses something as simple as a vegetable stew to impress a culinary critic. The rat, however, doesn’t cook Ratatouille, as most think, but a similar dish, a casserole called Confit Byaldi.
  • You can bake the stew sprinkled with cheese or covered with shortcrust pastry on top.
  • You can use it as a filling for crepes (very thin French pancakes – here you’ll find my recipe for savory pancakes: Smoked salmon pancakes with cream cheese and honey-mustard sauce.
  • As a topping for bruschetta – toast small pieces of sourdough toast or baguette and top with the stew. Great for parties, as it tastes good warm and cold.

The Greek equivalent of Ratatouille is Briami. You can find my Briami recipe here.

STORING AND FREEZING TIPS:

Ratatouille can be reheated and taste also very good the next day.

This vegetable stew can also be frozen.

RATATOUILLE RECIPE STEP-BY-STEP: (pan-fried version)

STEP 1: Prepare all the vegetables: Cut the eggplant into 2 cm / 3/4-inch thick half-slices. Cut the zucchini into 1.5 cm / ½-inch slices, then cut them in half or in quarters (depending on their size). Cut the bell peppers into 1 cm / ½-inch strips. Dice the onion, chop the garlic very finely. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes, peel and cut into 1.5 cm / ½ inch cubes.

STEP 2: Salt and dry the eggplant – season well with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. After this time, pat dry with paper towels. Salting the eggplant can be omitted, but it makes, in my opinion, frying and browning easier.

STEP 3: Pan-fry the vegetables: In a very large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Pan-fry the zucchini, eggplants and bell peppers in batches: place the vegetables in a single layer in a pan (they can’t be overcrowded) and cook for approx. 2 minutes on one side and one minute on the other. The vegetables should be browned but not cooked through and tender. Transfer the browned vegetables to a very large pot and repeat until all zucchini, eggplants and bell peppers are browned.

Reduce the heat under the pan, add the onions and spices (if using dried spices), cook for about 6 minutes, until translucent, add the garlic and cook for one more minute.

preparation steps - ratatouille

STEP 4: Stew the vegetables: Add the chopped tomatoes and spices (if using fresh ones), cook, stirring and scraping with a spatula the brown bits at the bottom of the pan, as soon as they combine with the sauce, pour the content of the pan into the pot. Add approx. ¾ cup of water to the vegetables in the pot, lightly season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. Vegetables should be tender, but still retain their shape. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve and enjoy!

RATATOUILLE RECIPE STEP-BY-STEP – stewed version

  • STEP 1: Prepare all the vegetables: Dice the onion, chop the garlic very finely. Cut the eggplants, zucchini and bell peppers into ½-inch / 1.5 cm cubes. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes, peel them and cut into ½/inch / 1.5 cm cubes.
  • STEP 2: Cook the onions and garlic: In a very large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil, add the onions, cook over medium-low heat for about 6 minutes, until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for a minute. If you’re using dried spices, add them together with the onions. Transfer the onions with garlic to a plate.
  • STEP 3: Pan-fry the vegetables: Increase the heat to the highest setting, add the sliced eggplants, zucchini, bell peppers and 2 extra tablespoons of oil (add the eggplant first). Cook for approx. 10 minutes, don’t stir for the first 2-3 minutes, then stir from time to time. The vegetables should lightly brown (at least the first layer).
  • STEP 4: Stew the vegetables: Add the tomatoes, onion with garlic, a ¾ cup of water and fresh herbs (if using) to the pot, season lightly with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then uncover and simmer for 15-30 minutes more, until reached desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

RATATOUILLE – French summer vegetable stew

Delicious French vegetable stew, made from fresh summer vegetables. Tastes amazing with a crunchy baguette with salted butter.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Servings 4 people
Calories 260kcal
Author Aleksandra

Ingredients

  • olive oil for frying not extra virgin olive oil, or another frying oil, about 4-6 tablespoons
  • 2 eggplants / aubergines 1.8 lbs / 800g
  • 2 medium zucchini / courgettes 1.3 lbs / 600g
  • 2 bell peppers red and yellow
  • 2 large tomatoes or 4 small tomatoes, 1.1 lbs / 500g
  • 2 medium onions 7 oz / 200g
  • 10 cloves garlic yes!
  • ¾ cup water
  • spices: 2 tablespoons dried thyme / herbes de Provence or bouquet garni (a small handful of fresh thyme twigs + a few sprigs parsley + 2 bay leaves)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

ratatouille – stewed version:

  • Prepare all the vegetables: Dice the onion, chop the garlic very finely. Cut the eggplants, zucchini and bell peppers into ½-inch / 1.5 cm cubes. Pour boiling water over the tomatoes, peel them and cut into ½/inch / 1.5 cm cubes.
  • Pan-fry the vegetables: In a very large pot, heat 2 tablespoons of oil, add the onions, cook over medium-low heat for about 6 minutes, until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for a minute. If you’re using dried spices, add them together with the onions. Transfer the onions with garlic to a plate.
  • Increase the heat to the highest setting, add the sliced eggplantss, zucchini, bell peppers and 2 extra tablespoons of oil (add the eggplant first). Cook for approx. 10 minutes, don't stir for the first 2-3 minutes, then stir from time to time. The vegetables should slightly brown (at least the first layer).
  • Stew: Add the tomatoes, onion with garlic, a ¾ cup of water and fresh herbs (if using) to the pot, season lightly with salt and pepper, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, then uncover and simmer for 15-30 minutes more, until reached desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

ratatouille – pan-fried version:

  • Prepare all the vegetables: Cut the eggplant into 3/4-inch / 2 cm thick half-slices, season well with salt and set aside for 30 minutes. After this time, pat dry with paper towels (salting the eggplant can be omitted, but it makes, in my opinion, frying and browning easier).
  • Cut the zucchini into ½-inch / 1.5 cm slices, then cut them in half or in quarters (depending on their size). Cut the peppers into ½-inch / 1 cm strips. Dice the onion, chop the garlic very finely.
  • Pour boiling water over the tomatoes, peel them and chop into ½-inch / 1.5 cm cubes.
  • Pan-fry the vegetables: In a very large pan, heat 2 tablespoons of oil over high heat.
  • Pan-fry the zucchini, eggplants and bell peppers in batches: place the vegetables in a single layer in a pan (they can’t be overcrowded) and cook for approx. 2 minutes on one side and one minute on the other. The vegetables should be browned but not cooked through and tender. Transfer the browned vegetables to a very large pot and repeat until all zucchini, eggplants and bell peppers are browned.
  • Reduce the heat under the pan, add the onions and spices (if using dried spices), cook for about 6 minutes, until translucent, add the garlic and cook for one more minute.
  • Stew the vegetables: Add the chopped tomatoes and spices (if using fresh ones), cook, stirring and scraping with a spatula the brown bits at the bottom of the pan, as soon as they combine with the sauce, pour the content of the pan into the pot.
  • Add approx. ¾ cup of water to the vegetables in the pot, lightly season with salt and pepper, bring to a boil, cover and simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes, stirring from time to time. Vegetables should be tender, but still retain their shape. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve.
  • Enjoy!

Notes

  • Calories count = 1 serving (1/4 of the recipe).
  • The stewed version of ratatouille: vegetables are in smaller chunks and have an almost jammy consistency. Great on its own or with a piece of baguette with salted butter or as a crepe filling or a bruschetta topping. You can also make a ratatouille with poached eggs.
  • Pan-fried version: each vegetable is pan-fried separately than all the vegetables are combined and stew for a short period of time. The vegetables are more crunchy and retain their shape. Serve with a piece of crunchy baguette with butter and pan-fried eggs or chicken breast on the side.

Nutrition

Calories: 260kcal
Course dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine French
Keyword aubergine stew recipe, french ratatouille recipe, french vegetable stew, ratatouille recipe

Did you make this recipe? Let me know how you liked it and give it a star rating in the comments below! You can also add a photo of your creation!

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