This easy ratatouille recipe is a traditional French vegetable stew. A hearty dish that celebrates summer vegetables and is one of those meals that everyone loves.
If you find yourself overrun with tomatoes, zucchini and peppers, this is the recipe for you. It utilizes all of the wonderful produce of summer in a healthy vegan dish that is absolutely delicious and gluten-free.
Much like my eggplant caponata recipe, ratatouille can be eaten on its own, with beans, pasta, on crostini or even as a side dish.
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Easy ratatouille recipe
This is about the time of year when people who are lucky enough to have prolific gardens start to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of gorgeous bright red tomatoes and beautiful zucchini that their loving care has yielded.
If you find yourself with a surplus of summer vegetables, making this easy ratatouille recipe is an excellent way to use them up.
What is ratatouille?
Ratatouille is a classic French vegetable stew. Some purists believe that the vegetables should be cooked separately, and then stirred together to finish the dish, in order to be able to taste each vegetable on its own. While I can’t disagree with that, I also rarely do it.
Cooking ratatouille the traditional way can be a lengthy process, and we don’t often have that kind of time during the week.
Another variation on the classic chunky vegetable stew is turning it into a layered vegetable dish. This is actually a “tian” and not ratatouille. While it is beautiful, it’s not the classic French stew.
There are many variations on this dish, but what they all have in common is the basic list of ingredients: zucchini, summer squash, tomato and eggplant.
As long as you are cooking, enjoying the process and the food tastes good, do whatever makes you happy.
- Eggplant – roasting the eggplant helps this veggie take on a bit of caramelization.
- Zucchini and yellow summer squash – I use both so I can make it as colorful as possible.
- Tomatoes – fresh, ripe tomatoes are what gives this dish amazing flavor.
- Bell pepper – Red, orange or yellow peppers give lots of color and sweetness to this easy ratatouille.
- Onion and garlic – because they go in almost everything.
- Olive oil – My absolute favorite is arbequina olive oil from Spain.
- Herbs – basil, thyme, parsley and bay leaves.
- Salt and pepper – we season everything!
Ratatouille is one of those dishes that people don’t make often enough. This one is a variation on Julia Child’s recipe. I changed a few things to make it more to my taste, feel free to do the same from here. More of what you like, less of what you don’t.
How to make ratatouille
First, dice the eggplant, zucchini and summer squash. Toss with a few tablespoons of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
Roast them in a hot oven for 15 – 20 minutes, until softened and just starting to brown. Chop onions and peppers and sauté them in a pot while the other vegetables are roasting. Then, combine all of the veggies in the pot and let them simmer together until the tomatoes break down and release their juices.
The biggest change to the traditional ratatouille recipe is roasting some of the vegetables. Roasting the eggplant and squash reduces the amount of time you are standing in front of the stove (always a win).
The remaining veggies for this easy ratatouille recipe will be broken down slowly in olive oil. I’ve made ratatouille the traditional way for the better part of my professional cooking life and it is wonderful, but this way is much quicker and easier.
This easy ratatouille recipe can be eaten warm, at room temperature or even cold. It is substantial enough to stand on its own as a stew or it can be served alongside roast chicken as a side dish. Try tossing it with pasta and giving it a sprinkle of Parmesan.
This easy recipe is the epitome of summer, there really is no wrong way to enjoy it.
Make a night of it and watch the Ratatouille movie while you’re enjoying your delicious dinner!
Helpful tools and equipment
• Dutch oven – This cast iron Dutch oven pot is perfect for making stews, soups and chili.
• Commercial sheet pans – These are heavy-duty sheet pans that won’t warp in a hot oven. Every professional kitchen uses this type of baking sheet.
• Chef’s knife – This is the same knife I have used for 20 years. It is a workhorse, and if you take care of it, you’ll never need to buy another knife.
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- 1 lb. eggplant, diced / 1 large
- 1 lb. zucchini, diced / 2 medium
- 1 bell pepper, diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, smashed
- 3/4 lb. firm, ripe tomatoes, peeled & seeded, chopped (*see note)
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 - 1 1/2 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- a few sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tbsp. minced parsley
- 1 tbsp. basil, finely sliced (chiffonade) or torn
- Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C. Toss eggplant with 2 tablespoons olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Place eggplant on sheet pan and roast in oven for 20 minutes.
- Toss zucchini and summer squash with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Place zucchini and summer squash on sheet pan and roast for 15 minutes.
- While eggplant, zucchini and summer squash are roasting, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
- Add onions and peppers to pot and sauté for 10 minutes until softened, but not browned.
- Add garlic, thyme & bay leaves, season with salt and pepper.
- Add tomatoes and cook over medium-low heat for 10 - 15 minutes until tomatoes have released their juices, then raise heat and simmer for several minutes to allow some of the liquid to evaporate, if desired. (*see note)
- Remove eggplant, zucchini and summer squash from the oven and add to the pot. Stir to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning.
- Let simmer for a few minutes allowing flavors to combine, remove from heat and stir in parsley and basil.
To peel tomatoes - Bring a pot of water to a boil. While you are waiting for the water, fill a large bowl with ice water. Cut a shallow "x" in the bottom of the tomatoes. Drop into boiling water for 45 seconds - 1 minute. Remove the tomatoes from the boiling water and immediately plunge into the ice bath. The skins will slip right off. If they do not, leave the tomatoes in the ice bath for a few minutes, until the skin starts to pull back from the flesh of the tomato. At this point, they will be easy to peel.
*The longer you simmer the ratatouille, the more it will break down. If you like chunks of vegetables, don't let it simmer too long. If you'd prefer a stew of very soft vegetables, let the ratatouille simmer up to one hour.
** If your tomatoes do not release enough liquid, add 1 cup of canned CRUSHED TOMATOES to the pot.
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Serving Size:1 cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 129Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 714mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 3gSugar: 5gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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Originally published 7/19/12, most recent update 4/11/22.