Ratatouille is a vegetarian dish worthy of being the star at the dinner table. It’s the perfect way to use a late-summer farmers’ market bounty of eggplants, zucchini, peppers, onions and tomatoes.
In this version, warm spices, garlic, ginger and fresh herbs add layers of complexity to the roasted vegetables. If you’ve been put off by bland, soupy ratatouille, this recipe might change your mind.
Taking the time to cook the vegetables separately, reduce the sauce and finish in the oven yields a luscious, rich vegetable stew with a jammy tomato sauce. It’s a dish where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The cooking process takes time, but it’s a lazy weekend project that pays off. If your pot accommodates, make a double batch, as ratatouille freezes and reheats beautifully.
Versatility is part of its charm. A bowl of this richly seasoned ratatouille can stand on its own as a healthy lunch or as part of a Sunday supper with fragrant basmati rice and garlicky naan.
As a side dish, it’s a wonderful bed for meaty grilled fish like tuna or swordfish. As leftovers, it’s perfect stirred into scrambled eggs, smeared on crusty bread or as an enhancement to a grilled cheese sandwich. It’s even fantastic as a pasta or pizza sauce.
Season with pinches of salt and pepper during the batch cooking process, and don’t be stingy with the olive oil. This isn’t a dish that calls for strict measurements, so if you’re short on one vegetable, simply add a little more of another. A good quality Indian or Caribbean curry powder does the job, but for something a bit fiery, try Vindaloo curry powder.
The recipe can be taken in an alternate direction with Thai red curry paste, Mexican chili powder, or even Moroccan ras el hanout. Think of the curry powder as an all-purpose seasoning, and adapt to your heart’s content.
Angela Davis is a Virginia-based blogger, recipe developer, self-taught home cook and mother of two. You can find more of her recipes at The Kitchenista Diaries.
- 1 (1-pound) eggplant, chopped into 1-inch chunks
- Extra virgin olive oil, as needed
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Cracked black pepper, to taste
- 2 green zucchinis (approximately 1 pound), chopped into 1-inch chunks, divided
- 1 yellow zucchini or summer squash (approximately ½ pound), chopped into 1-inch chunks
- 2 red bell peppers (approximately ½ pound), roughly chopped
- 1 red onion, roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (2-inch) knob ginger, peeled and minced
- 1 tablespoon Indian curry powder
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped mint
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
Heat oven to 400°F. Spread eggplant in even layer on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Roast eggplant until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Warm 2 tablespoons olive oil (or ghee) in heavy Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add some zucchini, just what covers the bottom of the pot in one layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden and tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper at end of cooking, to taste. Transfer cooked zucchini to large colander set over bowl to catch drained liquid. Repeat with remaining zucchini and summer squash. Add olive oil between batches, if needed.
After zucchini and squash has been cooked and transferred to colander, follow same process to cook bell peppers in batches. Transfer cooked peppers to colander filled with zucchini.
Add olive oil to pot, if needed. Add chopped onions and cook until softened and golden brown, 5–10 minutes. Season onions with salt and pepper, to taste.
Reduce heat to medium. Add olive oil to pot, if needed. Stir in garlic, ginger, curry powder, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and tomato paste. Stir to coat onions, and cook for 1 minute, or until fragrant.
Stir in crushed tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits in pan. Bring sauce to boil, then reduce heat and simmer. Add any accumulated liquid from cooked vegetables. Let sauce simmer uncovered until thickened and reduced by about half, about 15-20 minutes over medium heat. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Heat oven to 350°F.
Return cooked zucchini, squash, peppers and roasted eggplant to pot. Stir into tomato sauce. Cover pot, leaving lid slightly ajar, and transfer to oven. Roast for 30 minutes, or until sauce has reduced to jam-like consistency. Stir in lemon juice, butter, mint and cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Dr. Konstantin Frank 2015 Gewürztraminer (Finger Lakes); $17, 90 points. Packed with fresh and ripe fruit flavors, Gewürztraminer has no problem keeping pace with pepper and curry spices. The rounder body of the wine compliments the texture of the ratatouille and generous swaths of acidity keep the palate fresh.