Savory Sauteed Vegan Ratatouille Recipe
This is (in my humble opinion!) the best vegetarian ratatouille recipe because not only does it support my philosophy of culinary alchemy (eating the rainbow) it is a tried-and-tested favorite in my house. And in addition to being vegan, it’s gluten-free for all to enjoy, so that is also a great thing.
I always like to know a little bit of the history behind a dish, and ratatouille has a very rich backstory.
The word, which comes from the French touiller, to stir, first pops up in 1877, misspelled, in reference to a meat stew. It is not until the 1930s that it becomes associated with a 'ragout of aubergine with tomatoes, courgettes, and sweet pepper.'
Unlike much of French cuisine, ratatouille does not have a set recipe or precise technique. There are as many versions as there are cooks, each bringing their own twist with slightly different methods and ingredients. I agree that my recipe should be used as inspiration. I mean, if you have ripe veggies in the garden that you want to add in, the more veggies the merrier!
Ratatouille is typically cooked on the stove, though some chefs insist the flavors come out more by baking it. Personally, I do mine on the stove because I like the comfort food element of the traditional Provencal country stew.
This one-pot dish has all the seasonal veggie goodness going on with eggplant, zucchini, and sweet bell peppers simmered to perfection in a zesty tomato sauce. I also love the way the vegetables come together and marry in a way that is greater than the sum of their parts!
Ratatouille requires some knife work, that’s for sure. All the vegetables are cut into roughly ¼ to ½-inch pieces which goes much faster than chopping or cutting them into a fine dice, but is def more labor-intensive than cutting large chunks. I have tried this dish with larger chunks, but the flavor is not the same. Vegetables like squash are much tastier if they can soak up the sauce and mingle with the other ingredients, and I find that doesn’t happen when the chunks are too big.
One tip I will add is that salting, draining, and patting the eggplant cubes dry helps to remove excess water from the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit), which concentrates its flavor and makes for better browning later.
Not only does this dish pack a flavor punch, but it also has a lot of vitamins, including vitamin C, K, B6, minerals, fiber, and omega 3. It also contains potassium, iron, lycopene, lutein, an zeaxanthin.
If you’re wondering what to serve with ratatouille, the sky is the limit. It’s an incredibly versatile dish. It is a great make-ahead recipe. It tastes even better the next day and reheats beautifully. (You can also get more mileage out of all your labor by freezing extra ratatouille for later!)
Paired with polenta, quinoa or gluten-free pasta, it can definitely take center stage as a hearty and delicious main course. And with a little imagination, you can do so many creative things in the kitchen with ratatouille, including:
- Heat up tortillas and sprinkle some shredded dairy-free cheese on top for yummy tacos
- Fold it into fritattas and omelettes
- Make open-face snacks on chia seed crackers
- Add it to a bowl with avocado and acai or brown rice
Some recipes call for chicken stock, but I find this vegetarian ratatouille doesn’t need it. It gets its zesty flavor from the delicate blend of vegetables infused with olive oil and spices. Enjoy!
YIELDS: 4 Servings
1 1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup medium-dice yellow onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup medium-dice green bell peppers
2 1/2 cups medium-dice eggplant
1 cup medium-dice zucchini
1/2 cup finely chopped plum tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt (to taste)
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
2 tablespoons vegetable broth
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Heat the olive oil in a large, wide, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until soft, about 1 minute.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the tomato paste and cook until it completely coats the onions and deepens in color, about 1-2 minutes.
- Add the vegetables in the following sequence: 1) bell peppers 2) eggplant, 3) zucchini 4) tomatoes. Cook each vegetable until it softens, 2-3 minutes each, before adding the next.
- Add salt, black pepper and broth and reduce the heat to low. Allow the vegetables to stew; they should be moist but retain their texture and not become soupy. Stew until vegetables are tender and flavorful. Add parsley, check the seasoning and add additional salt and pepper, as needed. Serve immediately or cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight.