What do I make when I am desperate to get rid of a whole bunch of midsummer vegetables in a flash? Ratatouille. The basics of ratatouille are eggplant, tomatoes, zucchini/summer squash, and peppers (along with onions and garlic), but if I have too much corn or corn that I forgot to eat right away, in it goes. Awash in green beans? Add it in!
This ratatouille recipe serves as a fantastic, silky, vegetable base, but can be modified in a multitude of ways. Looking to add protein? A poached egg or some white beans go nicely. Want to stretch it over a few meals? Add some cooked pasta for the last few minutes. Sometimes I am just in the mood for cheese and will grate a little cheddar or Parmesan over the top. Or for some crunch, add buttered and toasted breadcrumbs (panko, ideally). Clearly, there is a lot of wiggle room, but I share the basic recipe here. Change it up depending on what you’ve got to use.
- 2 eggplant
- 3 onions
- 2 bell peppers
- 3 summer squash and/or zucchini
- 1 24 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 6 tablespoons olive oil extra virgin
- 3 cloves garlic
- 6 leaves basil
- 2 sprigs thyme
Dice the eggplant very small, not much bigger than a kernel of corn. If you go bigger, you risk squeaky, undercooked eggplant, an unpleasant texture. Toss with a teaspoon of salt and allow to drain in a colander. You want to allow about an hour, so start this about 45 minutes before you start everything else.
Preheat a dutch oven over medium heat with about a tablespoon of olive oil.
Dice onions. Add to pan when it has come to temperature with a small pinch of salt. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
While onions are cooking, dice the bell peppers into 1/2 inch chunks.
When onions are softened and a few edges start to brown, about 6 minutes, remove to a large bowl.
Add a little more than a tablespoon of olive oil to pan, giving it a a few seconds to warm up, add peppers, and a small punch of salt. Stir occasionally.
While peppers are cooking, dice squash into 1/2 inch chunks. If you go bigger, you risk squeaky, undercooked squash.
When softened and a few edges start to brown, about 10 minutes, remove to the large bowl.
Add a little more than a tablespoon of olive oil to pan, giving it a a few seconds to warm up, add squash, and a small punch of salt. Stir occasionally.
While squash is cooking, prepare the eggplant, tomato, garlic, and bail. Separate the tomato solids from the tomato juice, reserving the tomato juice. Separately, rinse the eggplant and squeeze out as much water as you can. Mince the garlic and set aside. Chiffonade the basil and set aside.
When softened and a few edges start to brown, about 20 minutes, remove to the large bowl.
Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to pan, giving it a few seconds to warm up, and add the eggplant. Stir occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes.
When softened, remove to the large bowl.
Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to pan, giving it a few seconds to warm up, and add the tomato solids. Stir occasionally, cooking until dry and a brown crust has started to form at the bottom of the pan.
Remove the tomatoes to the large bowl.
Add a dash of olive oil to the pan and the garlic. Cook until fragrant, no longer than 1 minute.
Deglaze the bottom of the pan. The best way is with about a 1/4 or 1/2 cup of cooking wine, scraping the bottom of the pan with the wooden spoon. If you don't want to use wine, you can use broth, water, or some of the tomato juice.
Add the tomato juice (or remainder of the tomato juice) to the pan as well as all the vegetables, basil and thyme. Stir thoroughly to combine.
Simmer for about an hour and a half for a well combined, silky texture. For a firmer vegetable texture, you can cook as little as a half hour.
Remove thyme before serving.
- Change up the quantities or proportions of anything I've listed above based on what you have. The only thing I would say you definitely need is the tomatoes.
- Corn kernels: add about 5 minutes before the end if using fresh, 10 minutes if using frozen.
- Green beans: add in 1 inch chunks about 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
- Tomatoes: you can use fresh instead of canned, but you will get cooked tomato skin, which can be kind of tough and curled. I don't mind the texture if I have a ton of tomatoes to use, but just be aware. Also, you you are using fresh, you will need to add more salt.
- Ratatouille is always good with a hunk of crusty bed.
- For some protein, consider adding in cooked or canned drained white beans about 10 minutes before the end of cooking or serve a fried egg over top.
- To stretch the vegetables, as they do cook down pretty significantly, separately cook some pasta to an al dente finish and add to the pan about 10 minutes before the end of cooking.
- For some texture, you can add some toasted, buttered breadcrumbs over the top or croutons underneath.
- Cheese over the top is also never a bad decision. Try parmesan or cheddar.
- If you are adding more than one thing (e.g. corn, green beans, pasta, white beans), give it a little more time to cook than what I've listed above.