This traditional ratatouille recipe is made the classic French way! Sop up these stewed late summer veggies with bread or serve as a side.
Sure, you’ve heard of the Ratatouille movie: but do you know what ratatouille actually is? Not surprisingly, this humble dish that’s not anything like it’s glamorized movie version: thinly sliced vegetables served in a swirled stack. This classic French dish of stewed late summer vegetables is anything but fancy, but it’s a darn good way to use seasonal produce! Serve it as a side dish with fish or chicken, or as a main dish with white beans and crusty bread.
What is ratatouille?
Ratatouille is a classic dish from Southern France of stewed vegetables. There’s no formalized recipe or method, but it typically includes eggplant, tomato, zucchini, onion, and bell pepper. It’s a humble stew and surprise: not anything like the ratatouille you see in the Pixar movie.
- Where did the Disney ratatouille recipe come from? In the 1970’s French chefs started making a version of the dish with thin sliced vegetables. French chef Thomas Keller riffed on this concept in his 1999 cookbook, calling the recipe Confit byaldi. Confit byaldi adds a tomato and pepper sauce on the bottom (piperade), then garnishes the thin-sliced vegetables with balsamic vinaigrette.
- Chef Thomas Keller actually served as food consultant for the movie Ratatouille! He suggested this way to serve the humble dish to a food critic, which is how it made its way into the movie. It does seem like a pretty genius spin for a mouse to think up, so we’re glad to know it was actually a great real-life chef. (Source)
Making a traditional ratatouille recipe: some tips
A traditional ratatouille recipe is a humble vegetable stew, filled with end of summer vegetables. Is it worth making? Absolutely! It’s a comforting dish that makes your kitchen smell like heaven as the garlic sizzles. The way it enhances the flavors is out of this world! Here are a few things to note about this ratatouille recipe:
- Saute the veggies in two batches. The amount of vegetables is too large for the pot, so to get a good caramelization on them you’ll sauté in two batches. While some modern spins roast their ratatouille veggies, we wanted to go as classic as possible.
- Then add garlic, tomatoes, and veggies and cook 30 minutes. At this point it’s totally hands off, so you can prepare the rest of the meal.
- Serve with pistou if desired. Even better, serve it with classic French pistou over the top! Keep reading.
Serve with pistou to take it over the top
Though this is a traditional ratatouille recipe, we couldn’t resist adding a little spin! (Sorry, Remy.) Add a little green sauce to make this one really shine! What’s pistou?
- Pistou is a classic French Provençal sauce made of garlic, olive oil and fresh basil. It’s like Italian pesto but without pine nuts, which gives it a looser texture.
- Use an immersion blender or a mortar and pestle to make this traditional sauce.
- The fresh, garlicky flavor notes really add to this humble dish.
How to serve ratatouille
Ratatouille is a late summer recipe that works as main dish or a side dish for roast chicken or fish. But keep in mind: it’s all vegetables with no major source of protein to keep you full. To serve it as a main dish, pair it with a protein like white beans, chickpeas or bread and cheese. Here are some ideas:
- Serve with bread and assorted cheeses
- Add sautéed white beans or cannellini beans
- Add French lentils
- Serve over rice with sauteed chickpeas
- Use as a side dish for chicken, seared salmon or grilled salmon, grilled tilapia, or pan fried cod
How would you serve it? Let us know in the comments below.
More classic French recipes
Love classic French recipes? Here are a few more delicious ways to enjoy French food:
- Try Nicoise Salad, the classic French main dish salad from Nice
- Opt for Pomme Frites with Aioli, a classic creamy fry dip
- Go for French Onion Soup
- Try tangy, vinaigrette-based French Potato Salad
This ratatouille recipe is…
Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, dairy-free and gluten-free.Print
Classic Ratatouille Recipe
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into 3/4” pieces
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch thick bite-sized chunks
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 yellow onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
- 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- ½ tablespoon lemon juice
- ¼ cup roughly chopped basil
- Pistou, for serving
- Prep the vegetables (except tomatoes) and add to a large bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and kosher salt and toss to combine.
- In a large frying pan or large cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium high heat. Add half of the vegetables and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned (not fully cooked) and remove to a bowl.
- Reduce the heat to medium. Add another drizzle of olive oil and cook the second half of the veggies in the same manner for about 5 minutes, then remove them to the same bowl.
- Keep the heat on medium. Add the minced garlic to the hot pan. Cook about 10 seconds, stirring constantly. Then add the chopped tomatoes with their liquid and cook for 30 seconds. Add the crushed tomatoes and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Then add the cooked vegetables and stir.
- Simmer about 30 minutes until tomatoes are reduced and veggies are all tender, stirring occasionally. When it’s done, stir in the lemon juice, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Top with pistou if desired.