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!

A white bowl with ratatouille with two hands

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This post was originally shared on August 18th, 2017. I have updated the text today.

When we first moved into our little Vermont town, I worked part time at the Eating Well test kitchen, and I had a little catering and personal chef business. The first summer I sold take-home meals at our local farmers’ market. I figured it seemed like a great way to get the word out about my personal chef and catering business, and I could bring in income in the meantime.

Every week I mixed up the menu, which was mostly all healthy vegetarian seasonal recipes. One recipe I made every week (and always sold out) was my Smoky Ratatouille. Though it’s been fifteen years since that summer, every time I make ratatouille I think of the farmers’ market. Today I have the recipe to share with you! 

 

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?

My 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. 

Garlic:

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. 

Sweet onion:

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. 

Kosher salt

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’re not sure if you should buy a bottle of it, I should mention that I call for Herbes De Provence pretty regularly. I use it in my Soupe Au Pistou and to add easy flavor to roasted parsnips

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. 

Smoked Paprika

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. 

Eggplant

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. 

Fresh oregano

I have so much oregano on hand in my garden, and I love the layer of earthy herb flavor it adds at the end. 

Ground pepper

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. 

Pine nuts

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. 

Parsley (optional)

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. 

Close-up of ratatouille in a pot overhead with a red handled spoon

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

I have a large straight sided saute pan, but if you don’t a Dutch Oven works too. You want something with a wide cooking surface to get the maximum amount of browning which helps develop flavor. 

Sauté The Vegetables

1. Caramelize the Onions and Garlic First

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.

2. Bloom the Spices

Before adding 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.

3. 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. 

4. Look For Fond

  • 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! 

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. 

a wooden bowl with a serving of ratatouille. A dish of pinenuts and oregano blossoms.

Steps To Make This Recipe

What to Serve with this 30 minute Ratatouille

To serve, remove it from the heat and stir in oregano and ground pepper.

  • Serve warm or cold topped with goat cheese (if using), pine nuts and parsley. I love the crunch of the pine nuts on top too and the freshness of the parsley to offset it all.
  • At the Farmers’ Market I made Polenta Cakes to serve with it, but at home I like to serve it with soft polenta. 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 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! 

Ratatouille in a pot with two servings

Make Ahead Instructions

  1. The veggies for this recipe can be made one day ahead. 
  2. 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! 
  3. 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. 

a white bowl on burlap with ratatouille in it with oregano blossoms

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! 

Ratatouille in a bowl with two hands

Thanks so much for reading. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review. It’s so helpful! 

Happy Cooking!

~Katie

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an overhead of a pot of ratatouille

Rataouille

  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Category: Side Dish
  • Method: Stove Top
  • Cuisine: French

Description

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.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Notes

*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.

  1. The veggies for this recipe can be cut one day ahead.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.

Nutrition

  • 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

A pot of ratatouille with goat cheese on it

ratatouille