Ratatouille Stir-Fry

published Aug 23, 2021
summer
Ratatouille Stir-Fry Recipe

A quick-cooking version of this classic summer French dish makes crisp-tender eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers.

Serves4

Prep15 minutes

Cook18 minutes to 20 minutes

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ratatouille stir fry in a large skillet
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

If you’ve ever been to France in the summer, you’ll probably understand why I think there’s something downright magical about that time of year there. Produce markets are brimming with colorful, ripe vegetables, fields of lavender are in full bloom in Provence, and you get super-long days where the sun doesn’t set until 10 in the evening. Ratatouille — a medley of vegetables slow-cooked until meltingly tender and sweet — is the French dish that sings of summer. While that dish has a special place in my heart, the ingredients also speak to the Chinese side of me, and this stir-fry melds these two worlds together into one easy weeknight dish.

What Is Ratatouille?

Ratatouille is a traditional French slow-cooked stew from Provence. It features summer vegetables — usually tomatoes, summer squash, eggplant, and bell peppers — that are cooked with onions and garlic until meltingly tender. It’s rustic (contrary to what the Disney version will have you believe), and variations abound. Many recipes even tell you to cook each vegetable separately to preserve its flavor before combining it with the other veggies at the end.

Get the recipe: Easy French Ratatouille

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Quick Ratatouille

I love the super-soft traditional ratatouille, but in the summer I value quick-cooking and heating up my kitchen as little as possible. Stir-fries are my favorite way to quickly cook up a medley of vegetables, and I love that they can be served with rice or noodles, or stand-alone as a main dish. This ratatouille stir-fry cooks the veggies in a few batches, giving each a chance to pick up some char and deeper flavors.

First up is eggplant, then summer squash, followed by a medley of sweet bell peppers, onion, and garlic, and finally cute little cherry tomatoes. (Buy small vegetables if you can, as they’re less watery and more intense in flavor.) The final ratatouille gets a shower of fresh basil at the end, and I love that each vegetable has a crisp-tender texture. Salt and pepper are the only seasonings so that the true flavors of the vegetables get to sing.

A Smart Tip for Prepping Your Veggies

Each batch of veggies takes mere minutes to cook, so it’s best to have all the vegetables cut and prepped before you turn on the stove. Instead of putting each veggie in its own bowl, put them in piles on a baking sheet as you prep, and just bring the sheet pan over to the stove when you’re ready to cook. All the ingredients will be right at your fingertips and ready to go into the pan, and you only have to wash one baking sheet after!

How to Serve Ratatouille Stir-Fry

This summery stir-fry can be served over pasta, with some crusty or toasted bread, or with my favorite accompaniment: some buttered orzo. You can serve it hot or at room temperature. If you have a really good olive oil you’ve been saving, drizzle a good glug over the ratatouille before serving and things will get even better.

5 Other Ratatouille Recipes to Try

Ratatouille Stir-Fry Recipe

A quick-cooking version of this classic summer French dish makes crisp-tender eggplant, zucchini, and bell peppers.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 18 minutes to 20 minutes

Serves 4

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 1

    medium red bell pepper (about 6 ounces)

  • 1/2

    medium yellow onion (about 6 ounces)

  • 2

    small or 1 large summer squash (about 12 ounces total)

  • 1

    medium Japanese or Chinese eggplant, or 1 very small globe eggplant (about 6 ounces)

  • 1 cup

    cherry or grape tomatoes (5 to 6 ounces)

  • 3 cloves

    garlic

  • 1/4 cup

    fresh basil leaves

  • 5 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • Freshly ground black pepper

  • Serving options: Crostini, cooked orzo, or fresh pasta

Instructions

  1. Prepare the following, placing each vegetable in a separate pile on a rimmed baking sheet as you complete them: Thinly slice 1 medium red bell pepper (about 1 1/2 cups) and 1/2 medium yellow onion (about 1 1/2 cups); halve 2 small summer squash and 1 medium Japanese eggplant lengthwise (quarter lengthwise if wider than 2-inches), then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces (about 2 3/4 cups squash, 2 cups eggplant); halve 1 cup cherry tomatoes; finely chop 2 to 3 garlic cloves; coarsely chop 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves.

  2. Heat a large frying pan or wok over medium-high heat until a bead of water dances when dropped in the pan, 2 to 4 minutes.

  3. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil around the perimeter of the pan. Add the eggplant, season with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and toss to coat in the oil. Spread out into an even layer and cook, stirring occasionally with a metal spatula, until crisp-tender and browned in spots, 2 to 4 minutes. Transfer to a medium bowl. Repeat cooking the summer squash in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Transfer to the bowl.

  4. Reduce the heat to medium and drizzle in the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the bell pepper, onion, and garlic, and season with 1/4 teaspoon of the kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and season with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften and the juices release, about 4 minutes.

  5. Return the eggplant, squash, and any accumulated juices to the pan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 1 minute. Taste and season with more salt and pepper as needed. Sprinkle with the basil and serve over crostini, cooked orzo, or cooked pasta if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.