This ratatouille recipe is a rainbow of fresh, peak-harvest veggies like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and squash with fragrant herbs that are cooked down to a hearty, savory stew that makes for the coziest, most satisfying meal.
I have several classic French recipes in my repertoire, like French onion soup, coq au vin, beef bourguignon, and this croque monsieur. Each of these recipes is like a warm hug, and so is this ratatouille. Traditionally, this rustic French stew is made with eggplant, bell pepper, onion, tomatoes, and zucchini that’s cooked down until fragrant and quite thick. Prepared this way, it’s not the prettiest dish. Over time it underwent a more refined evolution, with the attractive (almost too pretty to eat) layered version you see at many restaurants and in the movie Ratatouille. My version falls somewhere in between. I prefer the chunky stew, but I still like my veggies when they retain their shape, texture, and bright color infused with earthy herbs. Mostly, I’m after a ratatouille that’s hearty and full of layers of flavor, and this recipe is just that.
What’s in This Ratatouille
Ratatouille can be made any time of year but late summer into fall harvest is when the fresh ingredients really dazzle.
- Red bell peppers
- Fresh basil and thyme leaves
- Red wine vinegar
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Red pepper flakes
Do You Salt Eggplant in Ratatouille
Salting eggplant removes some of the bitterness large seeds can add to their taste. However, I rarely find eggplant with large seeds so I don’t bother with salting.
How to Make Ratatouille
Ratatouille is surprisingly easy to make. It’s the chopping that takes the most effort and time. But I like chopping so I’m okay with it.
- Chop the eggplant, zucchini, onion, and tomato into similar-sized chunks so they cook at the same rate.
- Slice the bell peppers into long strips. You can cube them, but I like how the longer lengths wrap around the other veggies when cooked.
- Cook the red bell pepper, onion, and garlic for 5-7 minutes or until the onions soften and start to become translucent. Season with ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and the red pepper flakes.
- Add the eggplant and cook for 5-7 minutes or until softened.
- Add the zucchini and tomatoes and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
- Add the thyme, half of the basil, and the red wine vinegar then season with black pepper and the rest of the kosher salt. Cook for 20 more minutes or until the flavors meld and the vegetables become stew-like, stirring occasionally.
Tips for Making Ratatouille
Chop the vegetables the same size so they cook at the same rate. Even though the peppers will be longer, their average surface area is the same.
Cook the vegetables over medium heat so they soften but don’t brown. This is not a dish where you want a lot of caramelization.
Don’t overcook the vegetables. I prefer my vegetables to still have some texture and bite instead of becoming soft and mushy.
Add acid from vinegar for flavor. I use red wine vinegar in this recipe but you could also use balsamic vinegar.
What is Ratatouille Supposed to Be
Ratatouille is a rustic French summer vegetable stew, made with bell peppers, onions, squash, tomatoes, and zucchini. Over the years, it evolved into more of a layered, refined dish (rather than a stew), that would appear in fine dining establishments, but today, both iterations are common. While both versions are super tasty, I prefer the original stew version because when the veggies have more time to cook, everything gets nice and melty and saucy, and the flavors are more developed.
What Nationality is Ratatouille
Ratatouille is a Provencal peasant stew that originated in Nice, sometime during the 18th century.
What is the Best Protein to Eat With Ratatouille
While ratatouille is a vegetarian dish that’s plenty hearty, you could easily serve it alongside your favorite protein. I’d recommend serving it up with my favorite easy baked chicken breast.
What to Serve with Ratatouille
- Crusty bread
- Pasta such as cooked penne or rigatoni
- The BEST Garlic Bread
- Caesar Salad with Garlic Croutons
- THE BEST Soft Creamy Polenta
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How to Make Ratatouille
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil , divided
- 2 red bell peppers , seeded and cut into 1-inch slivers
- 1 medium yellow onion , chopped
- 4 garlic cloves , minced or pressed
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt , divided
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 large eggplant , cubed, about 4 cups
- 2 medium zucchini , cubed, about 4 cups
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- ¼ cup fresh basil leaves , slivered or torn into small pieces
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Seed and slice the bell peppers into long strips. You can cube them, but I like how the longer lengths wrap around the other veggies when cooked. Chop the onion, eggplant, zucchini, and tomato into similar-sized chunks so they cook at the same rate. Mince the garlic.
- Drizzle olive oil into a large skillet and bring to medium heat. Add the red bell pepper, onion, and garlic and cook for 5-7 minutes or until the onions soften and start to become translucent, stirring occasionally. Season with ½ teaspoon of the kosher salt and the red pepper flakes.
- Add the eggplant and cook for 5-7 minutes or until softened. Add the zucchini and tomatoes and cook for another 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in the thyme, half of the basil, and the red wine vinegar. Season with black pepper and the rest of the kosher salt. Cook for 20 more minutes or until the flavors meld and the vegetables become stew-like, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and adjust if needed. Serve with another drizzle of olive oil and more fresh torn basil.
More Cozy French Dishes to Try
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