Easy Ratatouille (Vegan)

This classic French dish is completely vegan and tastes garden fresh! Ratatouille is an easy one-pot meal that anyone can make!

Photo by Allison of Culinary Cupcake

Ratatouille is a classic French stew that comes from the Provencal region of Nice. The name comes from the Occitan term “ratatolha”. The dish name is also derived from the French words “rata” which translates to chunky stew, and “touiller” which translates to stir up or toss food. Ratatouille originates from the 18th century and was commonly known as a peasant dish created by farmers that had use up the harvested fresh summer vegetables. It can be served as a main dish and is more commonly served as a side dish for fish and meat entrees. It can be eaten hot or at room temperature.

My father had this cookbook that he loved to use when I was a child. It was yellow and white and was filled with one-pot recipes. It was 50 One-Pot Meals by Sarah Edmonds. He covered it with yellow sticky notes and pen marks to indicate recipes he wanted to cook. Ratatouille was one of the recipes with a yellow sticky note used to bookmark it.

Personally, I thought the ratatouille recipe in 50 One-Pot Meals had a little too much going on for it. In my post university days, I was gifted Mastering the Art of French Cooking written by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck, and it soon became a favorite cookbook of mine. I started to make their version of ratatouille, but something was not quite right. I once again began experimenting with the dish to try to find the right balance of flavors. Eventually, I created my own version of ratatouille that had influences from my father’s favorite cookbook and from one of my favorite cookbooks.

I must of had ratatouille on the brain when I planted my garden this year because I have zucchini squash, bell peppers, eggplants, and tomato plants growing vigorously. In my kitchen, I have grown thyme and basil on my windowsill. Planting herbs and vegetables myself means I must put in a lot of time and persistence, but the flavors and freshness for my dishes is undeniable. When you are cooking ratatouille for yourself please consider using garden fresh or local farmer’s market vegetables and herbs!

Easy Ratatouille (Vegan) Recipe

Yields 4 main course servings and 6 side dish servings

Vegetarian/Vegan

Specialty Tool: Dutch oven/fireproof casserole with a lid

Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: 33 to 103 minutes

Wine Pairing Suggestion: Cabernet Sauvignon or Chardonnay

Ingredients

1 small eggplant, cubed

2 zucchini squash, cubed

1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 sprig fresh thyme

3 medium tomatoes, diced with their juices or 14 ounces of canned diced tomatoes

Olive oil

Salt and Pepper

8 large basil leaves, thinly sliced. Plus extra for garnish.

Directions

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the Dutch oven on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Saute the eggplant until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a separate plate.

Heat 2 more tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Season with salt and pepper. Saute the zucchini until browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a separate plate.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil and throw in the onion. Cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.

Toss in the bell pepper, garlic, and thyme with the onion and cook for 30 seconds.

Stir the tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini. Bring to a low boil. Then turn down to simmer.

Cover the Dutch oven and simmer for at least 20 minutes. The ratatouille can cook for up to 90 minutes. The longer the stew simmers, the silkier the texture.

Discard the thyme sprigs.

Stir in the basil right before serving.

Garnish with more basil and serve hot or at room temperature. Drizzle with a little olive oil for flavor.

To eat as an entree serve with a French baguette.

Ratatouille can also make a great vegetable side dish for roast lamb or tilapia.

This stew makes for wonderful leftovers! It has been said that the flavor improves the next day.

Variations: Yellow squash also works well with ratatouille if zucchini is unavailable. Red bell peppers can be a great substitute for green bell peppers.

Extra flavor: Add a dash of red pepper flakes.

Always try to use fresh local ingredients! Plant a garden or stop by your local farmer’s market and see whats in season!

DID YOU MAKE THIS DISH?

Tag @culinary_cupcake when you upload your photo on Instagram and hashtag #culinary_cupcake

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