Sell Us Veggies: Ratatouille

Make this ratatouille! Hands on time is only about 15 minutes. From LiveWell Mom Lacy!


Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

Serving Size: Makes 4 servings for a main course, or 6–8 serving


  • 2 medium sized zucchinis, diced
  • 1 large eggplant, diced
  • 2 shallots, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (or 1.5 pounds fresh tomatoes when they’re good)
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 T fresh tarragon, chopped (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Dice all your vegetables to roughly the same size before you begin.
  • In a heavy cast iron skillet or large Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the zucchini and eggplant and cook for about 5 minutes until veggies start to soften and eggplant start to turn brown. Set aside in a bowl.
  • Add the second tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the garlic, peppers, and shallots for about 3–4 minutes, until the shallots start to become translucent.
  • Add the tomatoes to the pan and mix well. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add the zucchini and eggplant back into the pan. Add the chopped herbs, the bay leaf, and the sugar and cook uncovered over low heat for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Salt and pepper to taste and serve with chicken, fish, quinoa, couscous, or polenta.
  • Makes 4 servings for a main course, or 6–8 servings as a side dish.

I would love to tell you that I fell in love with ratatouille while visiting France, where it was lovingly made by a wonderfully kind Frenchwoman I met at the market, who took me back to her rustic farmhouse kitchen where she cooked it for us in an antique Le Cruset pot.

But, in actuality, I fell in love with ratatouille in the frozen foods aisle of Trader Joe’s when we lived in California.

There it was, glistening with frost amid the frozen edamame and tofu burritos. I’d never had ratatouille before, but it had a whole host of delicious veggies in it, so I decided to give it a try.  Before long, that little bag of frozen goodness became a regular at our dinner table.  I served it over couscous for a dinner that was ready in less than 10 minutes.

But then we moved to Colorado, land of no Trader Joe’s. (Although, that’s changing soon!)  And, as you probably already know, bags of frozen ratatouille aren’t a common sight in unenlightened, mainstream grocery stores.

I realized I would have to figure out how to make it myself.  Lucky for me, it’s actually very simple.  Chop the veggies and then let the tender application of heat and time do it’s work.  The end!  It’s that simple.  Granted, it takes a little longer than heating up the frozen kind, but the flavor is absolutely worth it.

Ratatouille is also a great vehicle for trying eggplant, if you’re not familiar with the beautiful royal purple veg.  Eggplant doesn’t have a very strong flavor on its own, and absorbs a lot of the flavors with which it is cooked, so eating it mixed with lots of tomatoes, garlic, and herbs means you (and your family) are almost certain to love it.

Eggplants are also really simple to prepare.  Wash it, and then lop off the little cap of leaves.  No need to peel or try to remove any seeds.  Just slice or dice it however you like for your recipe (ratatouille works best with a small dice).  If you’ll be putting it in a casserole, or a dish like eggplant parmesan, it’s a good idea to put the cut eggplant in a colander and sprinkle it with salt, then let it stand for half an hour or so, which will release some of the water.  The French call that dégorger les légumes. You can do that with both the eggplant and the zucchini for this recipe, though it’s not totally necessary.

Ratatouille is traditionally served as an accompaniment to simple roasted meats, like chicken or fish, but I often make it the main course in a vegetarian supper.  I like to serve it over quinoa—for the added protein—or with couscous, or polenta.  If your family loves pasta, it’s also great over noodles and might be a friendly way to introduce all these veggies!

Want some other eggplant recipes to try? I love to order garlic eggplant at Chinese restaurants and make it at home—Chinese eggplant are long and skinny, but I’ve made this recipe with regular eggplant and it turns out fine.


Lacy Boggs is an award-winning food writer and a full-time mom blogging at where she provides resources for living like a foodie, even with a family, a budget, and a busy life. She lives between Denver and Boulder in Colorado with her husband and daughter.

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