A family favorite dish, for us, is Ratatouille. Thank you, Disney.
It began when my sister-in-law made the dish for my parents one summer evening, and my son went along. Let me qualify. My young son — who was an extremely picky eater. He loved it. To my utter astonishment. Vegetables and my son had a very tentative relationship.
I’m not sure if it was the company, the summer evening, or another favorite, the Disney movie, “Ratatouille.” But whatever it was, Ratatouille, the dish, became a family favorite recipe. And the mom, that was me, became very grateful to Disney that my picky eater son was eating his vegetables, happily.
Ratatouille derives from the french term, “touiller,” which simply means to “toss food.” It is a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish, originating in Nice, but popular along the entire Mediterranean coast as an easy summer dish. It was originally a dish considered “peasant food” because of the plentiful summer vegetables.
It’s typically served as a side dish, although it can be served as the main course with added pasta or bread — which we usually do. Traditionally, each vegetable is sautéed separately before being layered into a baking dish and then baked in the oven.
Here is my family favorite version of Ratatouille. Most recipes call for generous amounts of olive oil and I’ve paired that down quite a bit.
Oh — and a side note. Thanks to the movie I think, I try to slice the vegetables so that they are approximately the same size in diameter. When my now teenage son was younger, it worked like a dream!
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 yellow onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
4-5 medium tomatoes, sliced
4 small to medium zucchini, sliced
2 medium eggplant, stemmed, sliced
1 medium yellow pepper, sliced
1 medium green pepper, sliced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried dill
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 1 teaspoon dried)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Line a large roasting pan with foil.
Add the onion, garlic, tomatoes, zucchini, eggplant, and peppers to a bowl. Sprinkle seasoning and salt and freshly ground pepper over the vegetables and drizzle with the olive oil.
Layer the vegetables into the roasting pan. Cover it tightly with foil and bake for an hour, or until vegetables are bubbling and eggplant is soft.
Remove Ratatouille from the oven, sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve immediately. It is excellent as a side dish tossed with pasta or served on toasted slices of french bread. Add some ground meat for additional protein if you’d like.
This recipe freezes well in air-tight containers for up to 3 months. (If freezing, leave out the fresh herbs until serving).