Ratatouille is a classic vegetable stew from Provence, France, with tomatoes, eggplants, summer squash, bell peppers, onions and garlic. My easy recipe takes one pot and cooks in about 40 minutes. And because it is even better the next day or two, it is the perfect make-ahead meal. I highly recommend making a big batch to freeze for later!
Be sure to check out my tips and the video tutorial for how to make ratatouille below!
In my growing collection of Mediterranean diet recipes, you'll find plenty of dishes where vegetables are the star and nothing else is needed. Some favorites include: eggplant caponata; Moroccan vegetable tagine; Greek Briam; and of course, ratatouille!
What is Ratatouille made of?
Aside from the fact that it's the subject of a popular Disney movie, and it's so fun to say (rat-uh-too-ee), Ratatouille is a Mediterranean stew of late-summer vegetables from the home kitchens of the South of France; Provence to be more specific.
Ratatouille is typically made of a large volume of summer produce including: tomatoes, eggplant, summer squash (zucchini and yellow squash), bell peppers (any colors your like), onions and garlic. Fresh herbs including thyme and basil, dry herbs, and spices are added to turn this summer bounty into a rich, flavor-packed meal.
And while you can totally make this dish year-round, nothing beats a ratatouille made with perfectly ripe, extra sweet summer produce.
This vegetarian stew is rustic, hearty, and plenty flavorful. It is often served as a side dish, but it can stand on its own as dinner, and I highly recommend serving it with plenty of crusty bread or ladled over couscous.
Why this Ratatouille recipe works
- A simpler cooking process. In Provence, French ratatouille is cooked on the stove. Each ingredients is first cooked separately in extra virgin olive oil until tender, then they're all combined in one pot to simmer together until the flavors marry. They do this because each vegetable cooks at a different rate and absorbs different amounts of oil or liquid. But in this simpler version, I show you how to cook it all in one large pot, making sure the ingredients are added in sequence at different cooking stages to still achieve good texture.
- Flavor magic! As the vegetables cook in extra virgin olive oil, they each release their juices and become beautifully tender. Then with a bit of time to simmer in red wine with onions, garlic, spices and fresh thyme, they absorb some wonderful flavor. You'll notice I don't use herbs de provence, relying more on fresh thyme and a little bit of dried rosemary (but if you have it, you can add a dash of herbs de provence). I love to spike my stew with a bit of sherry vinegar at the very end; the acid really wakes everything up. If you want to capitalize on that flavor magic, let the ratatouille sit for about 1 hour before serving.
- The perfect make-ahead meal! It is even better the second or third day, when all the flavor has melded and the veggies have settled in. And yes, you can make a big batch and freeze it for later!
- Vegan and gluten free, although because it is so wholesome and satisfying, even my meat-loving friends will dive right into this pot of goodness!
Do you need to peel eggplant for ratatouille?
Traditionally the eggplant is peeled for this stew. But this depends more on your preference and the eggplant. If you end up with a larger, older eggplant, the skin will be a bit tough and it's probably a good idea to peel it. I often will partially peel the eggplant creating a zebra-like pattern.
Can I use canned tomatoes?
With this stew, as is the case with other dishes (like shakshuka) where tomatoes are a star ingredient, I often err on the side of using fresh, ripe tomatoes. But, in a pinch, a large can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes will work. I have not tried canned crushed tomatoes, but that may also be an option.
A few important tips for how to cook ratatouille
Cooking ratatouille in one pot is absolutely possible. And it’s what makes this recipe feasible on a given weeknight. Three important things to keep in mind:
1. How to chop your vegetables? Some recipes call for small-dice, while others call for chopping the ingredients in large chunks for a more rustic feel. It's a matter of personal preference. I tend to chop my vegetables in 1-inch pieces, and to add more interest, I might cut the zucchini or summer squash into half moons (I basically cut the zucchini in half length-wise, then I'll cut across to make half circles or half moons). This is a step you can do one night ahead: chop up the vegetables and save them each in their own container or zip-top bag in the fridge overnight.
2. Salt the eggplant. This is a hotly-debated subject. And yes, salting the eggplant would be an optional step, but I highly recommend it. This step helps in two ways: The eggplant sweats out any bitterness (yes, I know that not all eggplant is bitter), it also helps break its spongy texture. And when cooking something like one-pot ratatouille, salting the eggplant will help it cook more quickly so that we can avoid overcooking the rest of the vegetables as we wait on the eggplant.
3. Add each ingredient to the pot in sequence--first, the onions then bell peppers, then garlic, zucchini, tomato, and eggplant. Some recipes leave the tomato for last, but I like to take advantage of the tomato juice.
4. For best flavor, allow 1 hour for the stew to rest before serving. If you have the time, allow the ratatouille to rest in its warm pot for 1 hour or so before serving. This will allow the flavors to settle and deepen beautifully. You do not need to heat before serving, ratatouille is great just warm.
How to serve it
One note about serving this glorious stew: it is not one for extremes, too hot or too cold mutes its flavors. So allowing it to rest a bit is a great idea.
There is a small French bakery nearby called Douceur de France. Without fail, every time we visit, I order their ratatouille. They serve ratatouille just warm in a bowl, topped with a perfectly runny fried egg and a piece of crusty French baguette to the side. If I'm serving ratatouille as the main course, which I often do, this is exactly how I serve it. And because I like a little bit of heat, I add a pinch of red pepper flakes.
Crusty bread is essential to sop up all the tasty juice.
Make it ahead
Since ratatouille is better the next day or two, you can absolutely make it ahead and keep it in the fridge to enjoy throughout the week.
To store, place your cooled stew in a tight-lid container (preferably glass) and refrigerate. It will keep well refrigerated for 4 nights or so.
My advice is to take it out a while before you're ready to serve so that you can eat it at room temperature. You can warm it up a bit over gentle heat.
Can you freeze ratatouille?
You can freeze ratatouille. Thaw overnight in the fridge, and again, take it out a while before you serve and only warm over gentle heat or bring to room temperature. If, as a result of freezing, you find the texture to have softened too much, you can puree and serve ratatouille more as a creamier soup with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Related Recipes to Try:
Easy Ratatouille Recipe
- 1 lb eggplant peeled (or part-peeled in striped pattern), and cut into 1-inch pieces
- Kosher salt
- Private Reserve Greek extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium-sized yellow onion finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 green bell pepper stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 6 garlic cloves peeled, and minced
- 2 lb vine ripe tomatoes chopped
- 2 zucchini halved length-wise, then cut into ½ inch pieces (half moons)
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 springs fresh thyme
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- Eggs over-easy fried in extra virgin olive oil
- Crusty bread
- Place eggplant pieces in a large colander over your sink. Sprinkle with salt. Leave for 20 minutes as the eggplant sweats out its bitterness. Pat dry to remove water and excess salt.
- In a large heavy pot or Dutch Oven, heat 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil over medium heat until shimmering but not smoking. Add the onions. Cook, stirring regularly, until translucent (about 5 minutes). Now add the red peppers and green peppers, cook for another 4 minutes, and continue to stir.
- Add the garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, wine, and fresh thyme springs. Stir in black pepper, paprika, and rosemary. Season with kosher salt.
- Raise the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil for 5 minutes, stirring once or twice. Turn the heat down then cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes or so.
- Remove the ratatouille from the heat. Taste and adjust seasoning to your liking. Add the sherry vinegar and a generous drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Top with fresh basil.
- To serve, transfer the ratatouille to dinner bowls, top each with a fried egg (sunny-side up) and add crusty bread on the side. (See Cook's Tip)
- Cook's Tip: If you have the time, allow the ratatouille to rest in its warm pot for 1 hour or so before serving. This will allow the flavors to settle and deepen beautifully. You do not need to heat before serving, ratatouille is great just warm.
- Make Ahead and Leftovers: You can make Ratatouille ahead and refrigerate in a tight-lid container (preferably not plastic) for 4 days or so. Take it out a while before you are ready to serve it. Warm it through over gentle heat or just bring it to room temperature.
- Can you Freeze Ratatouille? You can freeze ratatouille. Thaw overnight in the fridge, and again bring out a while before you serve and only warm over gentle heat or bring to room temperature. If, as a result of freezing, you find the texture to have softened too much, you can puree and serve ratatouille more as a creamier soup with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
- Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including spices and extra virgin olive oil used in this recipe.
*This post first appeared on The Mediterranean Dish in 2018 and has been recently updated with new information for readers' benefit.