Classic Ratatouille Recipe

Ratatouille is a dish that was not named after a Pixar movie. In fact, the fancy-looking dish whipped up by said movie's rodent chef was actually closer to a different vegetable preparation called a tian. Rather than being a spiral swirl of produce, a true ratatouille is, as recipe developer Miriam Hahn explains, "kind of a cross between a vegetable soup and vegetable stew."

As for what goes into a ratatouille, this can vary from cook to cook, but for this recipe, Hahn insists that "fresh herbs are such a key ingredient here" due to the fact that "they add an element of freshness and flavor to the cooked vegetables." She also employs a less-common technique for flavoring the dish with garlic. While many recipes call for sautéing it along with the onions, she prefers to roast it instead, as she feels that "roasting a full bulb of garlic gives you a sweeter, buttery, and caramelized flavor." (If you like the toasty allium in ratatouille, chances are you'll love roasted garlic in mashed potatoes, too.)

Round up the ratatouille ingredients

For the roasted garlic, you'll need a whole bulb of garlic plus some olive oil. The ratatouille itself is made with eggplant, onions, zucchini, tiny tomatoes of the grape or cherry variety, and a red bell pepper. "You can vary the bell pepper type," Hahn says, though she advises using orange, red, or yellow instead of the green kind as she feels they're a better fit for this recipe.

To season this dish, you'll use salt, black pepper, crushed red pepper, bay leaves, dried oregano, dried basil, fresh basil, fresh thyme, and fresh Italian parsley. Hahn says you can vary the herbs if you wish; "you can also use fresh sage, rosemary, and oregano" in place of the parsley and basil, for instance.

Roast the garlic

The first step in making this ratatouille involves preheating the oven to 400 F. This isn't to cook the dish itself (it's a strictly stovetop operation), but is necessary for roasting the garlic.

Cut a thin slice (about ¼ inch) off the top of the garlic bulb so you can see the cloves inside. Sprinkle ½ teaspoon olive oil over the cut end and cover it with foil. Bake the garlic for 30 minutes, then let it cool down a bit.

Salt the eggplant

Peel the eggplant, then chop it up into cubes about 1 inch in size. Put the chopped eggplant in a colander, sprinkle it with ½ teaspoon salt, and let it drain for half an hour. You'll note this is the same amount of time it takes the garlic to cook, so you can do these two things simultaneously.

As for why you are salting and draining the eggplant, Hahn tells us it's because "eggplant has a lot of water in it, and the salt will bring that out." Partially dehydrating the eggplant this way, she says, "helps to avoid the eggplant getting soggy."

Cook the vegetables

Once the eggplant has released some of its liquid and the garlic has roasted, heat up the remaining oil until it is moderately hot, then use it to cook the onions and bell pepper for 5 minutes. As you sauté these vegetables, it's best to keep stirring them to prevent them from burning. At this point, you'll be adding most of the remaining ingredients to the pan: the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, thyme, bay leaves, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, pepper, and remaining salt. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the mixture for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring it every so often.

Finish off the ratatouille with herbs and garlic

Remove the thyme sprigs and bay leaves from the vegetable mixture, then remove the baked garlic cloves from their skins. Mash the garlic, then stir it into the ratatouille and remove the pot from the heat. As a final step, dress up the dish with a parsley and basil garnish.

Your ratatouille is ready to eat immediately, but many French chefs swear that it's even better the next day, as the veggies will have had ample time to linger together by then. This recipe is good for about 3 days in the fridge, and you can eat it warm at room-temp, or even slightly chilled. 

Classic Ratatouille Recipe
4.9 from 68 ratings
Learn to make classic Provençal ratatouille; this easy and delicious stew features eggplant, tomatoes and zucchini. 
Prep Time
15
minutes
Cook Time
45
minutes
Servings
6
Servings
ratatouille with herbs in bowl
Total time: 60 minutes
Ingredients
  • 1 bulb garlic
  • 2 tablespoons + ½ teaspoon olive oil, divided
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 cups zucchini sliced ¼-inch thick
  • 2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 bundles thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut ¼ inch off the top of a whole garlic bulb to expose the cloves.
  3. Drizzle ½ teaspoon of the olive oil over the cut side of the garlic.
  4. Cover the garlic with foil and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, peel the eggplant and cut it into 1-inch chunks. Sprinkle the eggplant with ½ teaspoon salt and drain it in a colander for 30 minutes as the garlic cooks.
  6. Remove the garlic from the oven and let it cool down.
  7. Heat the remaining oil over medium-high in a large pot or Dutch oven.
  8. Cook the onion and red pepper for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  9. Add the eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, thyme bundles, bay leaves, dried basil, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, pepper, and remaining salt to the pan. Lower the heat to medium.
  10. Cook the vegetables for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  11. Remove the thyme and bay leaves from the pot.
  12. Remove the garlic cloves from their skins and mash them.
  13. Stir the garlic into the ratatouille. Remove pot from heat.
  14. Top the ratatouille with fresh parsley and basil.
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