Midsummer’s Garden Vegetable Ratatouille

by formerchef on July 28, 2010

Post image for Midsummer’s Garden Vegetable Ratatouille

Is there such a thing as too much zucchini?
Oh yes, there is.
We went away for a week and our garden went crazy. It was scorching hot at home while we were in Panama and the garden responded as if breathing its last breath; it pumped out extra vegetables in a last ditch effort to get all its children off a sinking ship.

So what to do with all this bounty? Well, besides cooking up many of the other garden inspired recipes I have, I like to make a simple and fresh ratatouille. This dish is not only versatile, but freezes well for later when all the fresh vegetables are gone. See the end of the post for some ideas on what to do with extra ratatouille.

The vegetables are cooked in stages in this recipe. I did it this way for two reasons; first because I could not fit everything in my pan all at once (even though I have a gigantic saute pan) and second, because cooking the vegetables separately keeps the first ones added from getting over cooked before everything else is done. This way the flavors remain fresh and distinct.

The definition of ratatouille from my The Food Lover’s Companion book is this; “A popular dish from the French region of Provence that combines eggplant, tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, zucchini, garlic and herbs.” Good to know I’ve been doing it right all these years.

Ratatouille Recipe
Printable Recipe in PDF

6 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups onions diced (about 1.5 large onions)
1 Tbsp garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
3 cups bell peppers (1 each , red, yellow, green), diced
8 cups zucchini and yellow squash, large diced
6 cups eggplant (about 1.5 lbs), diced
1/4 cup water
5 cups fresh tomatoes, chopped
3 Tbsp, fresh herbs, chopped (rosemary, basil, thyme)
salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large saute pan, heat 2 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the bell peppers and saute for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Remove the onions, peppers, and garlic to a bowl.

2. Return the pan to the heat and add 2 more Tbsp of olive oil. Add the zucchini and yellow squash and cook until they are tender, about 5-7 minutes. Remove from the pan.

3. Return the pan to the heat and add the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Add the eggplant and saute for 2 minutes. Add the 1/4 cup of water; the eggplant will absorb all the oil very quickly and the water will help it cook before it burns. When the water is absorbed and the eggplant begins to soften (about 5 more minutes), add the chopped tomatoes to the eggplant.

4. Cook the tomatoes until they start to break down and the eggplant is soft, but not mushy. Add the onions, peppers, and squash back into the pan, folding it all together with a large spoon.

5. Cook for another 5 minutes and add the fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper. Don’t overcook; you want the flavors to remain fresh and distinct. Plus, if you reheat for later use, it’s going to cook more then.

Some ideas on what to do with ratatouille:

  • Serve as a side dish. Ratatouille pairs well with grilled fish, chicken or meat.
  • Use as a topper on toasted bread a la bruschetta.
  • Use as a pasta sauce over rigatoni or penne. Toss in some chunks of fresh mozzarella or crumbled goat cheese at the end.
  • Combine with some cannellini beans and put it over cous cous or polenta for a quick vegetarian meal.
  • Puree part of it and combine to make a thick vegetable soup.

This recipe uses a lot of vegetables and yields about 12 cups of Ratatouille. It can easily be scaled down to fit whatever vegetables you have on hand.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 sharon Miro July 28, 2010 at 7:10 am

Did I get any of this? Seems I did but it wandered home with someone who said they were sick. Looks yummy. Send some via pony express.

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2 Angrboda July 28, 2010 at 7:53 am

Hey, that looks ridiculously easy to make! I think I’ll give that one a go.

How long would you say it takes to make? About 30 minutes or so?

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3 formerchef July 28, 2010 at 7:57 am

It is easy! Yes, about 30 min, more or less, depending on prep (chopping) time and how much you make.

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4 Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen July 28, 2010 at 7:05 pm

I love ratatouille – one of my favorite summer dishes, yours looks beautiful.

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5 formerchef July 28, 2010 at 7:26 pm

Thanks Jenn! I bet you have a ton of vegetables in your new garden which would be perfect for ratatouille too!

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6 Charles G Thompson July 28, 2010 at 9:45 pm

A great summer dish from a favorite part of France — good use of your bounty too!

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7 Rebecca August 9, 2010 at 7:16 am

My poor hubby is getting so tired of the usual ways I cook zucchini and squash. It was bumper year for these things. This looks amazing though so I will give this a whirl on him this week.

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8 dave August 21, 2010 at 12:47 pm

I love your website. Being a former chef/cook myself I could tell immediately you know what you are doing. Made the tomato soup recipe the other day from fresh toms from the garden and absolutely love it. Great as is but I see this as a base for further tom soup recipes.

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9 Tripp Hendrix August 23, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Thank you again. My 9 year old son has been asking for ratatouille since he saw the movie, but I was aubergine impaired. This year I planted eggplant. I think I can handle this recipe, BUT… Only my basil survived (does it ever not thrive?). Can you recommend a quantity of dried herbs? except for 1 tbs fresh Basil. Got that.

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10 formerchef August 23, 2010 at 2:29 pm

I think a couple of teaspoons of what ever you wanted to add would work just fine. I would add them in when cooking the onions. Dried herbs hold up better than fresh to longer cooking.

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11 Terri September 29, 2010 at 6:46 am

Looks like a great recipe but what combination and amounts of herbs do you like best? I have basil and rosemary and would need to get the thyme. Is it best with equal amounts of all three? Thanks much..Terri

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12 formerchef September 29, 2010 at 6:56 am

Hi Terri-I’m pretty flexible with the herbs just using what I have growing outside and what sounds good to me. The thyme is not essential, but it is nice. Rosemary can be very strong, so I’d use less of it than basil for example and chop what you do use pretty fine. Flat leafed parsley would also be good. It’s all about your personal taste. A little fresh oregano would also be good, or you could use some dried herbs just use less because they are stronger than fresh herbs.

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13 Ioana October 15, 2011 at 3:29 am

Love it!!!Love it so much! I will do it sunday evening.
Oh, I need an advice. I have a lot of tomatoes and vegetables in my fridge. What can I do with them, maybe smth that I could just put into the freezer and consume it even later on.

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