This is my (easier and quicker) version of the original online Ratatouille recipe found at Tasty. I made a few changes. Although it looks like you will be slicing and layering forever, this recipe does not take many vegetables at all. I used 2 very small summer squash, 1.5 small zucchini, 2 medium size tomatoes, and half (or less) of a large eggplant. I thought about digging out my mandarin slicer, but I really didn’t need it.
Most cooks used a large pan of some sort to create this dish. I decided to use three small round pans (about 6 inches across) because I am the only one who will eat it. I can easily throw one in the freezer for later. (It came out tasting so good I will probably just eat it all!)
What is Ratatouille?
The word “ratatouille” brings to mind that Disney cartoon about the mouse in the French kitchen helping a new young chef learn to cook. The dish for which the movie is named, is made of vegetables, usually the type that are harvested at around the same time in summer. This could mean all sorts of vegetables were used, and way back when, they probably used whatever was in abundance in the backyard garden.
The fresh produce I used: If I were still living (and gardening) in New Hampshire, my tomatoes, squash (summer squash / yellow squash), zucchini (courgettes), and eggplant (aubergines) would most likely be ready to eat by August – if everything grew according to plan. And I would be desperate for ways to use up those fresh veggies.
I don’t know about the old original ratatouille recipes, but these days you see the dish as sliced and layered colorful vegetables. Because of this, all the various veggie flavors mingle while they bake. I was very happy with the outcome and ate it with some leftover noodles.
For this one I used store bought, low sodium spaghetti sauce. One jar worked well to divide up between three small pans. I did sprinkle a little sugar on top of the sauce because the store bought sauce was not sweet enough for my taste. I oiled the pans, then divided the sauce into each of the three pans. The sliced vegetables were layered on a plate (a few at a time) and then plunked into the pan. Once the pans were full, I tucked the remaining slices into the center and to fill in around the edge.
The Eggplant, aka Aubergine
The eggplant I bought was huge, so I cut each slice into fourths for layering. First I salted the slices and let them sit in my colander for about 20 minutes. This gets the bitterness out. Rinse the salt off before using. A Japanese eggplant, which is long and skinny, would probably work better.
The original recipe I found said to add the herbs and oil after baking, but I sprinkled herbs over my slices before I covered them with foil to bake. It didn’t make sense to me to add all that nice flavor later on. Once the food was baked, I added nothing except a tiny bit of salt (because I add no salt when baking).
Easy and Cheap Meal
I used 2 small yellow squash and only 1 and 1/2 zucchini. Since I only had small tomatoes, but not Roma, I cut the slices (from 2 small tomatoes) in half. The large eggplant slices I cut into fourths but only used about half the large eggplant. The recipe I linked to, in the first sentence on this page, has a sauce and herb seasoning section (which means you make your own sauce and herb drizzle) but when using a jar of sauce and adding herbs before cooking (with no need for the herb drizzle), the meal becomes easier and faster to finish. I like the idea of the vegetables cooking with the herbs.
If you have a garden and can grow all these vegetables, your meal will be super cheap, and fresher than most. No wonder peasants were known for creating this dish! I wonder if they waited all year looking forward to tasting the first Ratatouille of summer?
My Baking Time Was Reduced
I used three small, round baking pans and baked them at 375 for 30 minutes, not 40. (They are covered with foil for the first baking sequence.) Once they were uncovered I baked them for an additional 10-15, which is less time than the 20 minutes suggested. My pans were small, so that makes sense. Just watch your baking time if you use smaller dishes.
I’ve seen some Ratatouille recipes baked in cast iron, but with the acidic tomatoes and sauce, I would use something other than cast iron. This recipe would work nicely in a pretty covered casserole dish. Or individual serving dishes / small cake pans like I used.
What to Serve With Your Ratatouille
Ideas for serving and eating the finished vegetable dish.
- Serve over rice or noodles as a vegetarian dish.
- Cook ground beef to combine with the tomato sauce to use as the base.
- Make garlic bread (softened butter, minced garlic, parmesan cheese mixed and spread on bread and broiled to golden brown). Bread and ratatouille would make a perfect meal!
- Serve Ratatouille as a side dish to any type of meat / fish, or in addition to a salad or other vegetable.
- It’s awesome with macaroni and cheese!
Ever since I found Ingrid’s Produce just down the street I have been a veggie cooking fool. Over the weekend I made a scrumptious tomato soup with fresh ingredients.