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The Disney/Pixar movie Ratatouille is one of my favorites, since its main theme is food and cooking. My kids didn’t really want to watch it (“it looks boring!”), but once they did, they were hooked! Since lately I’ve been trying to teach my kids the valuable skill of cooking, I decided to re-create Remy’s ratatouille recipe from the movie with them. And we had so much fun! In this post, I’ll give you the step by step ratatouille recipe instructions, so that you too can see that anyone can cook!
Why is it called ratatouille?
I love this recipe because it tastes like a summer garden! It’s chock full of summer vegetables, herbs and vibrant colors. In the movie, the character of Linguini at one point asks why is this dish called ratatouille. He says that it doesn’t sound appetizing at all, like “rat patootie, which does not sound delicious”. So why is it called ratatouille?
Ratatouille is a French Provençal vegetable dish that originates in Nice, France. The word ratatouille, according to Wikipedia, “derives from the Occitan ratatolha and is related to the French ratouiller and tatouiller, expressive forms of the verb touiller, meaning ‘to stir up.'”
This “peasant dish” can be made in many different ways, but the traditional ratatouille recipe includes eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, onion, garlic, tomatoes and regional herbs. In the movie, Remy’s ratatouille version is actually called confit byaldi. In this version, I added yellow squash, because I love it’s “creamy” taste, tomatoes for more acidity and different colored bell peppers for additional colors.
Is Ratatouille healthy to eat?
Yes! This dish has so many nutrient rich ingredients, it’s hard to know where to start! First, you have all the vitamins, minerals fiber and antioxidants from the vegetables. Then there’s the heart healthy olive oil, plus the sulfur compounds from the onions and garlic which may help lower the risk for certain types of cancer.
Ratatouille is also a great way to get more vegetables into your diet. Most health organizations recommend 9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily. This useful infographic from the American Heart Association teaches you what one serving of these foods actually is.
Do you have to peel eggplant for ratatouille?
I personally like to leave the eggplant’s skin on, since it’s completely edible, adds more fiber and it’s less prep time. But, you can peel it if you find the taste too bitter.
One extra step I do take is salting the eggplant. I find my kids tend to eat it when I salt it versus when I don’t. 🤷🏻♀️ You don’t really have to do this, since most eggplants nowadays aren’t very bitter (salting eggplant has been traditionally used to draw out its bitter compounds). When I salt my eggplant, I first slice or cube it, and then salt generously, allowing the fruit to sit in a colander for at least 20 minutes up to an hour. Before cooking the eggplant, I make sure to rinse the salt off well. Then I place the slices between sheets of paper towel and press gently to remove juices and firm the flesh.
How to cook ratatouille
OK, so this dish isn’t what I’d call a quick meal, but it’s pretty easy to make in terms of cooking it. This is a baked ratatouille, unlike other versions which fry the ingredients separately and then bring them all together and bake them into the ratatouille we know.
So first things first (after preheating the oven to 375° F) is slicing all the vegetables. I prefer to use my trusty mandoline slicer to slice the veggies evenly. It saves time too. I start with the eggplant first since I salt it, but like I mentioned before, you can skip this step.
Buy it here: Mandoline slicer
Once you have the vegetables sliced, it’s time to prepare the piperade. This is the name of a typical Basque dish prepared with onions, green peppers, and sauteed tomatoes, aka, the sauce on which the vegetables for this ratatouille recipe will rest on. In order to save time (like I said, this isn’t your typical quick meal), I used jarred spaghetti sauce, but here’s a piperade recipe in case you want to be more authentic. I just poured the sauce into the round baking dish, added the water, chopped onions, garlic and 1 tbsp of olive oil, combined well and spread it all over the bottom of the dish.
Buy it here: Round baking dish
Now comes the fun part: assembling the vegetables! I like to alternate the different colors of the vegetables (eggplant, zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, green pepper, yellow pepper, tomato and back to eggplant), and start from the outside of the dish. Work your way into the center of the dish.
Once the vegetables are layered, drizzle the remaining 3 tbsp of olive oil evenly over the vegetables, sprinkle with the herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Lastly, bake the ratatouille covered with parchment paper cut to fit inside the baking dish. This helps the veggies cook evenly but not get charred. It also helps preserve their color while cooking. Bake for 45 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
What to serve with Remy’s Ratatouille
This recipe works well as a main dish, or served with a starch such as pasta, couscous, crusty bread or rice. I like to add Parmesan cheese to my ratatouille, but you can use other cheeses if you like, such as Mascarpone, goat cheese or ricotta.
If you have any leftover ratatouille, you can also puree it and use it as a pasta sauce. This is great for kids who don’t like the texture of vegetables (or just plain don’t like to eat them in their vegetable form). Just place the vegetables and piperade into a high speed blender, and blend until desired consistency (from chunky to smooth). Then use it to make any pasta dish, soup or lasagna.
My kids enjoyed the vegetables with no problem, but they also loved this dish pureed and stirred into some cooked penne pasta. It certainly made for a quick meal that time around!
Remy’s Ratatouille Recipe
- 1 medium eggplant thinly sliced and salted for 20 minutes
- 1 medium zucchini thinly sliced
- 1 medium yellow squash thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 yellow bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 green bell pepper thinly sliced
- 1 medium tomato thinly sliced
- ¾ cup pasta sauce, any flavor
- ¾ cup water
- 1 medium onion chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tbsp olive oil divided
- 2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped, or 1 tbsp dried
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, or ¼ tsp dried
- salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ cup grated vegan Parmesan cheese optional
- Preheat oven to 375° F (190° C)
- Thinly slice all the vegetables, preferably with a vegetable slicer or mandoline, for ease.
- Sprinkle salt over eggplant and let stand for 20 minutes. Rinse and pat dry.
- Spread pasta sauce over a 10 inch round baking dish. Add water and olive oil and mix well. Sprinkle with onions, garlic, salt, pepper. Combine well.
- Arrange sliced vegetables around the pan, alternating colors, starting at the outer edge of the dish and working towards the center.
- Drizzle vegetables with the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with basil, thyme, salt and pepper.
- Cover dish with parchment paper cut to fit inside the dish.
- Bake for around 45 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
- Serve with grated vegan Parmesan cheese, if desired, and over pasta, rice or with crusty bread.
Hi! I’m Melissa, Registered Dietitian and mother of two dragons. When I’m not talking nutrition you can find me rolling around the floor with my kids, sewing, crafting, cooking or missing the 90s (seriously, music just isn’t the same). Read More…