Traditional Ratatouille – Perfect for Your Summer Vegetable Harvest!
Every year when the summer harvest finally hits, we get an explosion of fresh vegetables! The supply is literally endless. Everywhere you look, there’s fresh eggplants, squash, zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and jalapeños on top of all the potatoes, onions, and garlic. You name it, and it’s probably bursting out of our kitchen storage. What makes ratatouille such a perfect recipe for the summer is that you can just throw all these veggies into the pot at once, and it turns into a delicious meal. Oh by the way, did I mention you only need one pot to make this ratatouille? That’s just one pot to clean – who doesn’t love that?
Ratatouille is said to have originated somewhere around Nice, which is located in the Southern regions of France. It’s a provincial French stew, so it was a perfect way for French farmers to make use of their bountiful harvests back in the old days. It has never been seen as “gourmet cuisine,” since it originated in the rural areas. A “poor man’s” stew that tastes like a complete summer harvest, that’s right up my alley!
You might know ratatouille from that one Disney movie that your kids made you watch about a hundred times, but it’s actually a very wholesome meal that’s easy to make and perfect for those of us who have no idea what to do with the endless summer veggies we just got done harvesting! This recipe is made in the traditional style, in which the veggies are rough-chopped into 1 inch “cubes.” That differs from the confit byaldi style of ratatouille made popular by the movie.
You may notice that this dish doesn’t feature any meat. That’s always been a problem for the boys in my family, so I usually serve alongside a steak or some kind of tender meat dish. It’s a versatile dish so serve it on top of or alongside of anything you like – rice, noodles, even sliced bread!
If you want more seasonal recipes like this one, get your hands on a copy of my Harvest Cookbook! You’ll have all the recipes you’ll need, all year round!
- 2 large eggplants cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 zucchini cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 summer squash cut into 1 inch pieces
- 2 medium onions cut into wedges
- 4 cloves of garlic sliced
- 6 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing
- 3 red or yellow peppers deseeded and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 jalapeño pepper deseeded and minced
- small bunch of basil plus 6 small basil leaves
- a few sprigs of thyme
- 6 ripe tomatoes roughly chopped
- 16 oz canned plum tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 lemon
In a large casserole pan or dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is shimmering, add the chopped eggplant, zucchini, squash, and peppers and fry for about 5 to 8 minutes. Do this in batches so that the vegetables brown instead of steaming. Cook until they are golden and soft. Remove vegetables to a bowl.
In the same pan, add another 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, basil stalks, and thyme and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until vegetables are golden. Add salt and pepper.
Add the cooked vegetables back to the pan along with the raw tomatoes, plum tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper.
Gently stir. Cover the pan and simmer over low heat for 40 minutes, or until reduced and sticky.
Adjust the seasonings. Grate the zest of 1/2 lemon and squeeze the juice over the ratatouille along with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
Serve over rice, noodles, or as a spread on rustic bread.