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Stuffed with a colorful variety of heart-healthy veggies, Ratatouille is a juicy and tender vegetable casserole. It stars meaty eggplant, tangy tomato and rich zucchini in a sumptuous broth. This dish is not only a great source of vitamins and minerals, but it’s also packed with savory flavor!
The Ultimate Vegan Vegetable Casserole
While ratatouille is not exactly a quick dish to whip up, it’s surprisingly easy. Most of the prep time for this casserole is devoted to chopping up the vegetables. All those hearty veggies cooked in the same pot give this dish a delightfully savory broth that blends the distinct veggie flavors into one mouthwatering sauce.
Since it’s made entirely of vegetables, which tend to keep well, this casserole is easy to make in advance. This makes it a great option for potlucks and picnics. Everyone is sure to love it as a side dish, and you’ll be the vegetarian and vegan guests’ favorite person at the party!
What is Ratatouille?
Ratatouille is a traditional French vegetable casserole made with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers. It was originally considered a summer dish since that’s when the vegetables it features are ripe, but these days it’s great for any time of year. It’s simple yet elegant, which has made it a menu staple at any authentic French restaurant.
Choosing fresh, local vegetables while they’re in season will really make this casserole pop. Scroll down to find the exact amounts for each ingredient in the recipe card.
- Olive Oil
- Onions: Slice these into rings and cook them with the peppers.
- Bell Peppers: Sliced into strips.
- Garlic: Finely minced.
- Salt & Pepper
- Fresh Parsley: Chop this up and sprinkle it between the layers.
How to Make Ratatouille
It’s amazing that a dish with just a handful of simple ingredients can come out so flavorful. Follow these steps to get restaurant-quality results.
Skin and Slice the Tomatoes
- Prepare the Tomatoes: Put a pot of water to boil on the stove while you get your tomatoes ready. Slice both ways across the bottom of each tomato to make an “X” shape.
- Skin Tomatoes: Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until the skin starts to separate from the tomato. Allow them to cool slightly, then peel the skin away.
- Slice Tomatoes: Slice the tomatoes in half, take out the seeds and juice, then slice them into 3/8-inch strips. Set them aside.
Cook the Eggplant and Zucchini
- Peel Eggplant: Take the peel off the eggplant and cut it into slices. These should be about 3/8 of an inch thick, 2-3 inches long and 1 inch wide.
- Prep Zucchini: Slice off the ends of the zucchini and cut it into slices about the same size as the eggplant. Try quartering the zucchini lengthwise before cutting the quarters into strips. Leave the skin on.
- Toss the Veggies: Toss the vegetables in a bowl with the salt and leave them for 30 minutes. Drain the bowl and arrange your vegetables on a towel to air-dry.
- Sauté the Eggplant: Heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil at a time in a 10 to 12-inch enamel skillet or pot. In a single layer, sauté the eggplant for about 1 minute on each side, followed by the zucchini, until everything is lightly browned. Add more olive oil as needed. Set your vegetables aside in a bowl.
Cook the Onions and Peppers
- Cook: In the same skillet as the eggplant and zucchini, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until they are tender but haven’t browned.
- Spice It Up: Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
- Add the Tomatoes: Lay the tomato slices that you set aside earlier over the onions and peppers. Season them with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook on low for about 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes begin to release their juices.
- Baste and Evaporate: Uncover the pan and baste the tomatoes with their own juices. Increase the heat and boil until most of the juice has evaporated.
Make Final Preparations
- Make the Base: Place one-third of the tomato mixture into an enameled pot or another casserole dish that can go on the stovetop. Sprinkle this base layer with 1 tablespoon of parsley.
- Complete the First Layer: Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top of the base, then spread half of the remaining tomato mixture over the top. Add another tablespoon of parsley.
- Finish Layering: Arrange the rest of the eggplant and zucchini on top of the first layer, then add the remaining tomatoes and parsley.
- Simmer: Cover the pan and let it simmer over low heat for 10 minutes.
- Baste and Evaporate: Uncover the dish and baste the casserole with the vegetable juices from the bottom of the pan. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Increase the heat slightly and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes, basting occasionally, until the juices have almost completely evaporated.
- Serve: Plate the ratatouille for each portion and serve!
Tips for Success
Ratatouille is loaded with tender and flavorful vegetables that make this casserole both healthy and delicious. Follow these tips to achieve the perfect texture and taste.
- Use a Heavy Bottomed Pot: I recommend enameled cast iron or another heavy-duty pot so that the vegetables do not burn during the sauteeing and simmering time.
- Preserve the Texture: Don’t skip the drying time for the eggplant after you remove it from its saltwater bath. Also, make sure you take the vegetables out of the oil as soon as they have browned. Absorbing too much water or oil can mess with the consistency of the vegetables.
- Keep It Even: Be sure to slice the eggplant, zucchini and peppers uniformly so that they cook evenly. Thicker slices will end up too firm while thin slices soften too quickly.
- Freshen It Up: If the vegetables used in ratatouille are in season, try getting fresh produce that’s sourced locally. Take a trip to the farmer’s market or a local farm stand to make the most out of this colorful summer dish.
Make It a Meal
To transform this vegetarian side dish into a complete meal, serve it with a protein over polenta, pasta, mashed potatoes, or fluffy white rice made in one of these 5 ways. Though ratatouille is vegetarian, your main course doesn’t have to be. Try it with this Lemon Herb Crockpot Roast Chicken. The zesty lemon will perfectly compliment the brightness of the vegetables. It’s also great with favorite summer meals like Grilled Flat Iron Steak.
Storage and Reheating
Many people actually think ratatouille tastes better the second day after the flavors have really had a chance to blend. Since the entire casserole is made from cooked vegetables, it will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. The best part is that ratatouille fits right in with any meal. Just add a fried egg or two and you’ve got a yummy, heart-healthy breakfast!
When you’re ready to reheat it, just add water (around 1/8 cup for each serving) and stir gently in a pot over medium-low heat. Add a bit of salt and pepper to boost the flavor before serving.
Can I Freeze Eggplant Casserole?
This casserole keeps great when it’s frozen for up to 3 months. Use double-lock freezer bags to store it, or put it in a tightly sealed freezer-safe container. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight and then follow the reheating instructions above, or pop it into the oven for 7 minutes at 375°F.
As I said, a heavy-bottomed pot is essential. You can go with a higher-end Le Creuset, but the more economical Lodge or even Amazon Essentials brand also does the job!
For the Tomatoes
- 1 lb. firm ripe, red tomatoes
For the Eggplant and Zucchini
- 1 lb. eggplant
- 1 lb. zucchini
- 1 t salt
- 3-4 T olive oil or more if needed
For the Onions and Peppers
- 1/2 lb. thinly sliced yellow onions
- 2 sliced green bell peppers
- 2-3 T olive oil if necessary
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- Salt and pepper
For Final Preparation
- 3 T minced parsley
- Salt and pepper
Prepare the Tomatoes
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
- Slice an “X” in the bottom of each tomato.
- Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until skin starts to separate from the tomato.
- Allow to cool slightly, then remove the skin.
- Slice the tomatoes in half, remove seeds and juice, and slice into 3/8-inch strips.
- Set aside.
Cook the Eggplant and Zucchini
- Peel eggplant, and cut into slices about 3/8 in. thick, 2-3 in. long, and 1 in. wide.
- Slice off the ends of the zucchini, and cut into slices about the same size as the eggplant (I quartered the zucchini lengthwise, then cut 2-3 in. long).
- Toss the vegetables in a bowl with the salt, and let stand for 30 minutes.
- Drain and dry on a towel.
- Heat about 1T olive oil at a time in a 10- to 12-inch enamel skillet or pot
- In a single layer, saute the eggplant for about 1 minute per side, followed by the zucchini, until lightly browned, adding more olive oil, as needed.
- Set aside in a bowl.
Grill the Onions and Peppers
- In the same skillet as the eggplant and zucchini, cook the onions and peppers slowly in olive oil for about 10 minutes, or until tender but not browned.
- Add garlic, and salt and pepper, to taste.
- Lay the reserved tomato slices over the onions and pepper. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and cook on low for about 5 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to release their juices.
- Uncover, baste tomatoes with juices, increase heat, and boil until most of the juice has evaporated.
Make Final Preparations
- Place one-third of tomato mixture into an enameled pot or other casserole that can go on the stovetop. Sprinkle with 1 T parsley.
- Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half of the remaining tomato mixture, and another 1 T parsley.
- Arrange the rest of the eggplant and zucchini, then the remaining tomatoes and parsley.
- Cover and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes (See Notes).
- Uncover, baste with juices, and adjust seasoning.
- Increase heat slightly, and cook uncovered for about 15 minutes, basting occasionally, until juices have almost completely evaporated.
- To Store: Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- To Freeze: Freeze for up to 3 months. Use double-lock freezer bags or a tightly sealed freezer-safe container. Let it thaw overnight before reheating.
- To Reheat: Cook in the oven for 7 minutes at 375°F or add water (around 1/8 cup for each serving) and stir gently on the stove over medium-low heat.