When your garden is overflowing and your kitchen is packed with produce, there is ratatouille. This thick and silky French stew of eggplant, zucchini, sweet peppers, and ripe summer tomatoes will use up your extra vegetables in one fell swoop, making enough food to feed a crowd, pack for lunch, and still freeze for later.
One-Pot French Stew: Watch the Video
Making ratatouille is definitely a project for a weekend afternoon; it's easy, but fairly time-consuming. First there's getting all the vegetables washed, chopped, and ready.
Then you need to cook them in batches, partly so they can brown instead of steam and partly because the vegetables tend not to fit in a single pot until they've started breaking down a little.
Once this is all accomplished and the vegetables are simmering away on the back burner, there's the waiting. You can certainly eat your ratatouille as soon as all the vegetables are warmed through — that's a perfectly tasty and fresh meal — but the real magic of ratatouille happens after it's been bubbling away for an hour or more. The vegetables melt into each other, turning silky and completely tender, while the thyme and garlic infuse every corner of the pot. Stirring in the basil at the last minute is the coup de resistance.
This recipe for ratatouille comes from my dad, a genuine Frenchman who learned to make the dish while growing up. It's filling, full of vegetables, and gets even better on the second and third day. I recommend serving it with plenty of crusty bread close at hand.
This is the quintessential vegetarian summer recipe — what else uses and celebrates so much of the bounty of the summer produce? Ratatouille is a great way to turn that bumper crop of summer squash or tomatoes into a tasty side dish or topping for crusty bread. We've simplified the recipe a bit and clarified the amounts you'll need, and should you find yourself with even more produce than planned, easily double the recipe and freeze the extras for when you want a taste of summer.
- Christine, April 2018