Here’s an easy 25 minute recipe for ratatouille, which is a simple French vegetable stew, made with eggplant, zucchini, peppers and tomatoes. This stove-top version is topped with fresh goat cheese and pine nuts. Just omit the goat cheese to make it vegan!
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This post was originally shared on August 18th, 2017. I have updated the text today.
Why We Love This Recipe
This ratatouille is a great way to enjoy fresh summer ripe vegetables in a 30 minute recipe. It is great served warm or cold (when it is too hot out to eat hot food.) And it also is great reheated or frozen!
What Is Ratatouille
If you were to do a quick search on Google or Pinterest, one would easily be led to believe that Ratatouille is a beautifully composed baked dish with slices of zucchini, eggplant and tomatoes. This however is not traditional ratatouille. Traditional French Ratatouille is a rustic stew of late summer vegetables cooked slowly in a generous amount of olive oil. It comes from the Provence region of France.
The Movie Version vs Traditional Version
For the Ratatouille movie, by Disney Pixar, Thomas Keller was hired as the film’s food consultant. In case you don’t know, he is the award winning and famed French Laundry chef. When Keller was asked how he would make ratatouille fit to impress a food critic, he said that he would prepare it in the style of Confit Byaldi which is a French composed baked vegetable dish originating in the 1970s.
True traditional Ratatouille is more of a rustic stew, the veggies are all chopped and stirred together. Traditional methods have you bake or saute the veggies separately, and use enough olive oil for a weeks worth of meals. If you ask me, these methods are too time consuming, and who wants to turn on the oven, or fry individual batches of vegetables on a hot summer evening?
This method yields results as delicious as these traditional stews, but with far less time spent, and much less oil!
Ingredients For This Stovetop Ratatouille Recipe
Extra-virgin olive oil:
I usually keep two kinds of olive oil on hand. One is for cooking and the other (more expensive) for finishing. For this recipe, you’ll be cooking with the olive oil, so any high extra-virgin olive oil works well. I use a quarter cup wich is plenty to soften and cook the veggies.
I use fresh chopped garlic for the best authentic taste. I prefer to chop it fresh instead of using jarred garlic. It is preservative free and has the best fresh flavor.
I prefer to use sweet onion in this recipe to really amp up the sweet juicy flavors of the veggies.
The natural sugars in the onion caramelized more readily which really intensifies the overal complexity of the final stew. That said, if you don’t have a sweet onion, you can use a regular yellow onion.
The salt flavors the stew and helps bring out the juices in the veggies as they cook so they will caramelize better and develop richness of flavor. If you do not have kosher salt, make sure you read this about subbing in table salt.
Herbs de Provence
This is a traditional herb blend from the Provence region of France, which is where Ratatouille originates. I like to use it in this recipe. It is a great “hack” ingredient for this recipe because it is many herbs in one.
If you do not have it, you can use a blend of dried thyme, oregano and rosemary. Herbes De Provence typically has lavender in it as well, so if you happen to have that add a small pinch.
The ratatouille I made for the farmers’ market had a great smoky flavor from the step of grilling plus the smoked paprika. It is a great low calorie way to add tons of irresistible smoky flavor to this recipe.
Zucchini and or yellow squash
Whichever you have (or both) works. At this time of year I often see it free on the side of the road at the end of peoples’ driveway. You’ll only need 3 cups total. Just cut it into large dice or bite-sized chunks.
No need to peel the eggplant (the skin gives this great texture) and no need to salt it either. Just chop it into chunks about the same size as your squash.
Red bell pepper
To complete the trifecta of late summer veggies, add in a bell pepper. I think the taste of red bell pepper is best in ratatouille. Green is too grassy paired with the tomato.
Whole fire roasted tomatoes or peeled and diced fresh tomatoes
To amp up the smoky flavor of the ratatouille, I use a can of whole fire-roasted tomatoes, and crush them by hand. The texture is authentically rustic like that of traditional stove top stewed ratatouille.
If you have a surplus of fresh garden ripe tomatoes on hand, by all means use them instead. Follow my method for how to peel and seeds tomatoes. You’ll need three cups.
I have so much oregano on hand in my garden, and I love the layer of earthy herb flavor it adds at the end.
Add in the pepper at the end for a little tiny kick of heat.
Fresh goat cheese (optional)
Without the goat cheese this recipe would be vegan, so if your diet is entirely plant-based, simply omit the goat cheese. I wait until just before serving to crumble a little over each serving.
To add a pine flavor crunch at the end, sprinkle on some toasted pine nuts. Toasting them helps to bring out their flavor so a little goes a long way.
To add a bit of fresh green, you can top your ratatouille with some chopped parsley. It can be skipped though if you don’t have any on hand.
How to Make Ratatouille
The recipe I used to make for the Farmers’ market was a giant batch and it was actually rather complicated. It involved grilling the vegetables first to boost the smokiness. Today I cut that step out, and followed a more traditional authentic ratatouille method of stove top stewing. I also made a few tweaks so this can be made in under a half hour!
Choose Your Pan
Step 1: Sauté The Onion and Garlic
Start by heating the olive oil in your pot over medium-high heat. You’ll know it’s hot enough when it starts shimmering. First add in the garlic and onion with the salt to brown them a bit before adding the in the other veggies. The other veggies are high in water content, so they would prevent the onion from caramelizing at all.
Before adding the rest of the veggies in with the onions add the Herbs de Provence and smoked paprika to th bloom them and make the most of the flavors.
Step 2: Add in the Veggies
Here I used traditional ratatouille veggies: zucchini, eggplant and red bell pepper. These veggies are high in water content and less liable to caramelize than onion is. Therefore, it is important to wait to add it later than the onion.
- Just cook and stir it until you notice a brown patina starts to form along the edges of the pan. That’s what’s called “fond” in French, and all you need to know is that’s the good stuff! It’s where the difference in flavor is made!
- When you’re cooking simple meatless recipes like this one or my Minestrone, or even rich meat based recipes like my Beef Burgundy, you’ll see how taking the time to get that fond makes all the difference!
Step 3: Add The Tomatoes
- Next add in the tomatoes.
- To give this a smoky flavor, I used canned fire roasted tomatoes. I like to use whole tomatoes and then crush them by hand to give the ratatouille a traditional rustic texture. That’s a trick I use in my Slow Cooker Chicken Gumbo, and it always is such a tasty detail!
- Since tomatoes are in season now, you can also sub 3 cups chopped fresh chopped tomatoes plus a generous pinch salt if you want to use them. A combination of ripe Roma tomatoes and heirloom slicing tomatoes is best. You can peel and seed the tomatoes too if you like.
- Simmer the stew for 10 minutes to thicken it, soften the veggies and meld the flavors.
Step 4: Add Herbs and Optional Toppings
Remove the sauté pan from the heat and stir in the oregano and pepper. Then spoon into serving bowls and top with parsley, goat cheese and pinenuts (if using.)
You can also chill it and serve it cold.
FAQs for This Recipe
The veggies for this recipe can be chopped one day ahead which is a great meal prep option.
The recipe can be cooked and chilled four days ahead. Note: The zucchini loses its color, so make sure to add on parsley to make it pretty!
This can be frozen for two to four weeks. Defrost it in the refrigerator, and then gently warm it on the stovetop until it is simmering.
I like to make Polenta Cakes or soft polenta to go with it. I make mine like this with broth and I add in Parmesan at the end. Just spoon the ratatouille over the polenta! So good! For a speedy option, buy polenta in a tube, and warm up rounds in a non-stick skillet with oil.
For a hearty meal, make garlic herb grilled chicken and serve it with ratatouille and baguette.
I also love having some for breakfast with a fried egg on top!
More Recipes Featuring Peppers, Zucchini, Summer Squash and Eggplant
Grilled Summer Squash Boats: This is a great way to use up a bunch of summer squash and makes a hearty meatless monday meal. They’re low-carb too!
Smoky Tomato Shallot Salad Dressing: This is an unexpected way to make use of summer fresh tomatoes. It’s so savory!
Healthy Zucchini Casserole: This is a lower calorie zucchini casserole to make the most of the bounty of summer zucchini.
Roasted Eggplant with Pomegranate Molasses, Feta and Mint: This sounds like it’s complicated, but it couldn’t be any easier to make!
Low Carb Mexican Stuffed Peppers: while local peppers are in season, be sure to make this simple (microwave) recipe!
No Cook Zucchini Noodles with Pesto: We adore this recipe and it is pretty much the main reason I grow zucchini in my garden every year!
Thanks so much for reading. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. It’s so helpful!
Here’s how to make Ratatouille on the stove top! It is an easy 25 minute recipe based on the classic French stew. This version is topped with fresh goat cheese and pine nuts.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 large sweet onion, diced
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 3 cups cubed zucchini and or yellow squash, about ¾ pound
- 3 cups cubed eggplant, about ½ pound
- 1 large diced red bell pepper (6-ounces)
- 1 28-ounce can whole fire roasted tomatoes or low sodium tomatoes* see tip
- 2 teaspoons tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- ½ cup crumbled fresh goat cheese, optional
- ¼ cup toasted pine nuts
- ¼ cup chopped parsley
- Heat oil in a large straight-sided sauté pan, or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add garlic, onion and salt and cook, stirring often until browned in some spots, and starting to soften, 4 to 6 minutes. Add Herbs de Provence and smoked paprika and cook, stirring until fragrant, 30 to 90 seconds.
- Add zucchini, eggplant and red bell and cook, stirring often until the vegetables are starting to soften and a brown patina starts to form along the edges of the pan (fond), 5 to 7 minutes.
- Crush tomatoes by hand into bite sized pieces. Add the tomatoes and their juices to the eggplant mixture and increase heat to high. Bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened to desired tenderness and starting to break down, and the tomato juices are thickened, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Remove from the heat and stir in oregano and ground pepper. Serve warm or cold topped with goat cheese (if using), pine nuts and parsley.
*tip: Sub 3 cups chopped fresh chopped tomatoes plus a generous pinch salt if desired. A combination of ripe Roma tomatoes and heirloom slicing tomatoes is best.
- The veggies for this recipe can be cut one day ahead.
- The recipe can be cooked and chilled four days ahead. Note: The zucchini loses its color, so make sure to add on parsley to make it pretty!
- This can be frozen for two to four weeks. Defrost it in the refrigerator, and then gently warm it on the stovetop until it is simmering.
- Serving Size: 2 cups
- Calories: 275
- Sugar: 12 g
- Sodium: 399 mg
- Fat: 19 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Carbohydrates: 23 g
- Fiber: 5 g
- Protein: 5 g