Recipe video above. Ratatouille is a French vegetable stew that at first glance seems like a humble dish – because it is. Made well though, it's a summery stunner bursting with the sunny tastes of the Mediterranean! The key to flavour-packed ratatouille is to sauté each vegetable separately before braising everything together. Ratatouille can comfortably star as a vegetarian main, otherwise it makes a perfect vegetable side.Makes side for 6 to 8 people, main meal for 4 people.
Course: Light mains, Main, Sides
Cuisine: French, Western
Keyword: french side dish, french vegetable side, Ratatouille, vegetable main, vegetable side dish, vegetable stew
1tbspfresh basil, finely chopped, plus more for garnish (Note 2 subs)
Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Sweat eggplant: Place eggplant in a colander set over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt, toss with hands. Leave for 30 minutes to sweat (no need to wipe off water that beads on surface).
Make tomato puree: Place tomato in a blender, food processor or other appliance of choice. Blitz until smooth. (No need to do this if using passata or crushed tomato.)
Cook eggplant: Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add eggplant and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly, until it's golden on the surface but still somewhat firm and raw inside. Transfer to a large pot.
Cook onion and garlic: In the same skillet, add another 1 tbsp olive oil. Add onion and garlic with a pinch of the salt. Cook for 3 minutes until onion is soft with a hint of golden on the edges. Add to pot holding eggplant.
Cook capsicum: Add another 1 tbsp of olive oil and cook the capsicum with a pinch of salt for 3 minutes. It should still be firm inside. You won't get much colour on the capsicum, this is OK. Add to pot.
Cook zucchini: Add another 1 tbsp olive oil and cook the zucchini with a pinch of salt for 3 minutes. Make sure it stays firm (ie. raw inside). Like the capsicum, it won't go golden. Add to pot.
Add remaining ingredients to pot: Turn the stove under the pot to medium-high. Add tomato, thyme, olives, remaining salt and all the pepper, and mix. Once the mixture is hot, reduce heat to a low simmer.
Braise: Cook for 20 - 25 minutes with the pot lid off, stirring every now and then, until all the vegetables are cooked through and the liquid has reduced. The mixture should be thick enough so you can pile it on a plate (ie. not watery), but still very moist and juicy.
Basil and salt: Taste and add more salt if needed; vegetables can taste bland if not enough salt is added. Stir through basil then serve immediately, drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of extra basil on top, if desired. Serve as a main with crusty bread, or as a side dish. See above recipe card for more ideas!
Other vegetables – While the vegetables I chose are most traditional, don’t feel limited to these. Anything that can be sautéed and works with the other vegetables will work a treat. Think mushrooms, fennel, celery, summer squash. I wouldn’t hesitate to throw in a handful of wiltable greens either (like kale, spinach etc).1. Tomato – It seems on-theme to use fresh tomatoes for the sauce in a dish like Ratatouille! But you can absolutely use canned crushed tomato (1 x 400g/14oz can) or tomato passata (2 cups). Please use a good quality one - cheap is usually sour and flavourless! I like Mutti brand best, personally.2. Other herb options: 1/2 tsp dried thyme, oregano or mixed herbs. Parsley, for finishing.3. Sweating eggplant – Salting the eggplants prior to cooking softens the flesh so it cooks faster and absorbs less oil. Contrary to popular belief, it does not draw out the bitterness because modern eggplants have already had any bitterness bred out of them!4. Nutrition per serving, assuming 8 servings as a side dish.