This Easy French Ratatouille is a rich and delicious vegetarian dish full of flavors and is perfect for serving as a main or a side.
Making ratatouille is not as difficult as it may seem. This classic French dish is easy to make and is a great way to use up some of those summer vegetables.
Plus, the recipe is so flexible! You can adapt it depending on the availability of ingredients or to suit your family's tastes. A simple dish perfect for late summer!
What is ratatouille?
Ratatouille (pronounced rat-tuh-too-ee) is a classic French stew from Provance, with coarsely chopped vegetables such as onions, zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers, cooked with a thick tomato sauce and seasoned with garlic and herbs. It can be served as a side dish or main course.
What does ratatouille taste like?
Ratatouille is rich and flavorful. It has an incredible freshness from the tomatoes and sweetness from the onions and bell peppers, an almost creamy note from the zucchini and eggplant, balanced by the savory garlic and herbs.
It is a delicious late summer dish that even a hardened meat lover will enjoy.
What to serve with ratatouille
There are many ways to serve ratatouille, but one of the most popular in France is to spoon it over some fresh bread. Or serve it in a bowl with crusty bread to dip in.
We often enjoy it with pasta or rice. Or as a side spooned over a grilled chicken breast or steak. You can add it to a pizza base, sprinkle it with some goat cheese and bake for a delicious veggie pizza. Or have it cold as a topping for bruschetta (see how to make the bruschetta bread)
Serve it with a poached or fried egg for a delicious brunch dish, or add it hot to the top of a baked potato for a great lunch. Or use it as a filling for stuffed peppers.
The traditional french ratatouille is cooked on the stovetop and each vegetable is cooked separately before being added to a large pot to braise and combine.
This ensures that each vegetable is perfectly cooked rather than some turning mushy before others are cooked. It is what differentiates a mushy vegetable stew from a delicious flavor-packed ratatouille.
But sauteing all the veg separately is time-consuming and uses lots of oil, so I like to roast the veg. It is a method I saw Delia Smith use, and it gives you perfectly cooked veg, with caramelized edges and a little less moisture, so you have no chance of your veg becoming mush!
Why you'll love this recipe
- Ratatouille turns what could be boring vegetables into something delicious! Even the pickiest of my kids will eat this!
- You can use up your vegetables and adapt the recipe to taste.
- It can be served as a side dish or a main dish.
- It tastes even better the following day and is excellent cold!
Can you freeze ratatouille?
Yes! Ratatouille freezes well! And it reheats perfectly too.
- Allow the ratatouille to cool; this can take a couple of hours.
- Divide into portions. For ease, I like to separate the ratatouille into individual portions before I freeze it. This gives me flexibility. I can defrost just one portion for lunch or a few for a family dinner.
- Place the ratatouille into ziplock bags. (I prefer the bags as I tend to break the lids of containers in the freezer! But you can use a container if you prefer)
- Squeeze as much air out as possible to avoid ice forming on your ratatouille.
- Label your bags and freeze them for up to 3 months.
If you make this Easy French Ratatouille, don't forget to come back and comment or tag me on social media.
Any questions about the recipe? Use the comments section below.
Easy French Ratatouille
For the sauce
- 2 lb ripe tomatoes - see note 1
- 2 onions -see note 2
- 3 cloves garlic
- 3 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup white wine -see note 3
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves - see note 4
- 2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil - see note 5
For the vegetables
- 1 eggplant -see note 6
- 2 bell peppers (red, orange, or yellow) -see note 7
- 2 zucchinis -see note 8
- 4 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil , divided
- ½ teaspoon salt , divided (cooking/kosher)
- Preheat your oven to 425ºF/220ºC.
While the oven is heating up, start the sauce.
- Remove the tomatoes' core, then place them in a food processor or blender and puree to a thick foamy puree. (see note 9 if you don't have a blender/processor)
1lb/900g ripe tomatoes
- Peel and chop the onions into large chunks (½-¾ inch square)
- Peel and thinly slice the garlic cloves.
3 cloves of garlic
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and the salt. Cook for 4-5 minutes until the onion is soft with a hint of golden on the edges.
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
- Add the sliced garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Then pour in the wine. Stir well to remove any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan and cook for a minute.
¼ cup/60ml white wine
- Add the pureed tomatoes, thyme, black pepper, and sugar. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer gently.
½ teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Prepare the veg
- Cut the eggplant and zucchinis into ½ inch chunks and cut the bell peppers ¾ inch squares.
2 bell peppers
- Toss the diced eggplant with 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of salt, then arrange on a large, rimmed baking sheet in a single layer.
span class="ingredient-colour">diced eggplant
2 tablespoons extra vigin olive oik
¼ teaspoon salt
- Toss the bell pepper and zucchini with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt and arrange on a large, rimmed baking tray in a single layer.
chopped bell peppers
2 tablespoons extra vigin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
- Place the baking sheets in the oven with the zucchini and bell pepper tray on the top shelf and the eggplant on the middle shelf.
- Cook for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, remove the baking trays and stir the vegetables making sure they stay in a single layer.
- Return the veg to the oven and cook for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and transfer the vegetables into the tomato sauce.
- Simmer the sauce for 5-6 minutes. Then stir in the fresh basil and check the seasoning.
span class="ingredient-colour">2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- Use the best ripest tomatoes you can. If fresh tomatoes aren't available, you can use a 28oz can of crushed tomatoes instead if you need to.
- You can use any onion you have to hand. White, brown, or red onions will all work.
- If you don't consume alcohol or don't have wine to hand, then you can replace it with water.
- If you are using dried thyme, then only use ½ teaspoon.
- Fresh basil is perfect for this sauce, you can use dried if you don't have it, but it will give a different taste. Use just ½ teaspoon.
- You want a firm, medium-sized eggplant, roughly 1lb/450g
- Use large bell peppers. You can mix and match the colors to suit what you have. Avoid green as they aren't sweet enough and can affect the final dish.
- Use firm zucchinis, weighing around 8oz/220g each.
- If you don't have a food processor or blender, you can grate the tomatoes on a large hole box grater. Chop any bits of flesh or skin that are too small to grate.