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My mother used to make a version of Julia Child’s ratatouille once a week during the summer months. It was the perfect way to use up the vegetables my father was growing in the garden: zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and tomatoes. She would also add a little fresh basil because my father was always ranting about how we weren’t using the basil fast enough. I could never understand why he planted enough for 12 families. Needless to say, we ate pesto constantly!
Back to the ratatouille – Mom would sauté the eggplant first, then the zucchini, then the peppers and onion, then the tomato. It was a tad labor-intensive for a veggie dish, if you ask me. We loved it though and it would last for days in the fridge. Plus ratatouille is equally good at room temperature as it is warm. It’s delicious on pasta or toast, or with eggs.
Fast forward a few decades and ratatouille made in that way is not practical for feeding a crowd, or for anyone with limited time. Cooking at the stove requires quite a lot of babysitting. My Aunt Maria, both my godmother and cooking inspiration, one day suggested roasting all the vegetables together. It’s not a classic preparation of ratatouille, but we weren’t exactly in Provence, now were we?
A new ratatouille was born and one we all like even more! It was less oily and the flavors seemed to meld better. And roasting all the veggies was infinitely easier! All the ratatouille I had previously been served in my life always felt very, very oily. I don’t have a problem with olive oil, but why use more than you need? Oil is high in calories without any fiber or protein and those calories add up.
I’m certain we’re not the first people to do a roasted version of ratatouille, but I would love to share my small tweaks. Over the years, I added a little flavor boost with Herbs de Provence, a blend of dried herbs used often in French cooking. I gave suggestions for making your own. I don’t think fresh basil was a Julia Child ingredient, but like I mentioned, we put fresh basil on EVERYTHING, and I can’t imagine ratatouille without it.
Roasting Vegetables 101 dictates spreading out those veggies in one layer so they caramelize and don’t steam. Using the convection setting (if you have one) on your oven also helps.
I could eat this as is for dinner. Maybe with a slice of cheese and bread. But if I’m serving this to friends (or my hungry family), a side of rice or orzo is nice and a piece of simple grilled fish or roasted chicken and we can call it a night. And chilled rosé. And then we can call it a night. A really good night.
If you make this recipe or any of my recipes, please tag me on Instagram so I can see your beautiful creations @pamelasalzman #pamelasalzman! And don’t forget to check out my bootcamps! We have so much fun!
- 2 small-medium eggplants, stem trimmed and cubed into 1 1⁄2 -inch pieces (do not peel)
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 2 medium summer squash (such as zucchini or yellow summer squash), trimmed and cubed into 1 1⁄2 -inch pieces
- 2 bell peppers, any color, cut into 1 1⁄2 -inch pieces
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 6-8 Tablespoons unrefined, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil (6 Tbs. will seem like not enough, but it will be fine. 8 Tbs. will make the ratatouille more authentic.)
- 1 Tablespoon Herbs de Provence (or 1 1⁄2 tsp dried oregano and 1 1⁄2 tsp dried marjoram)
- Sea salt to taste (I usually do about 3⁄4 teaspoon per sheet pan)
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 large ripe tomatoes cored and chopped (you can also use jarred whole tomatoes,
- 1⁄4 cup chopped fresh basil or flat leaf parsley
- Preheat the oven to convection 375*. Line two large baking sheets with unbleached parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, toss the eggplant, onion, squash, peppers, and garlic with the oil and herbs de provence. Spread out evenly on both baking sheets and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper.
- Roast for 30-40 minutes or until everything is softened and starting to caramelize.
- Stir the tomatoes into the vegetables on both sheets and roast for another 10-15 minutes or until
- the tomatoes become cooked and jammy. Transfer to a serving dish and taste for
- seasoning. Sprinkle with basil and parsley and serve immediately or at room temperature. This can also be made a day or two ahead and reheated. It gets better as it sits.