Alice Waters' Ratatouille

By • August 24, 2011 • 35 Comments

Author Notes: A genius recipe from Alice Waters' 2007 cookbook The Art of Simple Food: ratatouille that fusses only where it needs to fuss (over the eggplant), and adds a few smart, modern details -- red chile flakes, a basil bouquet -- that improve on a well-worn classic. Note: All vegetables conveniently work out to about a pound.Genius Recipes

Serves 6 to 8

  • 1 medium or 2 small eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more to taste
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 4 to 6 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of basil, tied in a bouquet with kitchen twine + 6 basil leaves, chopped
  • pinch of dried chile flakes
  • 2 sweet peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 medium summer squash, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 ripe medium tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • Salt to taste
  1. Toss the eggplant cubes with a teaspoon or so of salt. Set the cubes in a colander to drain for about 20 minutes.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot. Pat the eggplant dry, add to the pan, and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Add a bit more oil if the eggplant absorbs all the oil and sticks to the bottom of the pan. Remove the eggplant when done and set aside.
  3. In the same pot, pour in 2 more tablespoons olive oil. Add onions and cook for about 7 minutes, or until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, basil bouquet, dried chile flakes, and a bit more salt.
  4. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes, then stir in peppers. Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in summer squash. Cook for a few more minutes, then stir in tomatoes.
  5. Cook for 10 minutes longer, then stir in eggplant and cook for 10 to 15 minutes more, until all the vegetables are soft. Remove the bouquet of basil, pressing on it to extract all its flavors, and adjust the seasoning with salt.
  6. Stir in the chopped basil leaves and more extra virgin olive oil, to taste. Serve warm or cold.
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Comments (35) Questions (1)


1 day ago Julie

Simply Delicious, I did add some Italian parsley and only used basil leaves.


1 day ago lalf

I don’t get any bitter flavor from my eggplant in this recipe, which I must confess I do NOT follow when it comes to this particular ingredient. I use a different method, which I find uses far less oil in the cooking and produces a more flavorful result: I crisscross score (deeply but not all the way through) the cut sides of my halved (lengthwise) eggplants. Then I spray the cut surfaces lightly with olive oil and sprinkle on salt and pepper. Next I put the eggplant halves, cut side up, on a baking pan and bake for about 37 minutes (or until tops are golden) in a 400-degree oven. Once they are done and cool enough to handle, I use my trusty kitchen scissors to perfectly snip each half into dice. Since I use smaller, longer, thinner eggplants, they flatten somewhat during baking and offer the perfect thickness for dicing. I then add the diced eggplant into the recipe at step 5. The final result has always been delicious, and I make this recipe regularly.


3 days ago EJMdesign

Hmmm. Tried this tonight, and followed the recipe pretty exactly. But the eggplant seems to have retained a noticeably bitter flavor. It was my first attempt with eggplant; perhaps I did something wrong? I salted and drained it as per the recipe, and I tried to get eggplant that looked young and firm and glossy, which I'd read was important.

The rest of the recipe was great - before I added the eggplant back in it was delicious.


18 days ago rachaelmr

But today I am going to bake it all on top of leftover bread rounds drizzled with a little olive oil & red wine, with a layer of canned cannellini beans, then top the whole hot thing with ricotta salada. That's my plan.


4 months ago Caty

I've made this dish on several occasions and each time it is incredible. It makes a great vegetarian meal when served with quinoa and chickpeas, topped with crumbled goat cheese and a bit more fresh basil. Also wonderful the next day!


5 months ago stong

Delicious. Great recipe for an easy, light dinner and it only gets better overnight.
Since you're not seeding the tomatoes, it does get quite watery in the middle of cooking. However, the liquid cooks out the longer it stews and in the end you're left with a very nice, concentrated consistency.


6 months ago lalf

I love Alice Waters' version of ratatouille, which I've made several times now. It is both forgiving and versatile. Simple ingredients cooked by a method that offers superb flavor -- which is even more extraordinary after a few days in the fridge, would you believe. When I don't have fresh red peppers, I use two roasted ones from a jar. When I don't have three medium tomatoes, I'll use multicolored cherry tomatoes diced. I've served it in a number of ways, both hot -- with polenta, grilled fish or pasta -- and at room temperature, for bruschetta: topped with shaved Parmesan, or over a smear of Montrachet on grilled slices of baguette. Love that the recipe amount can make a couple of meals, too! After making it for dinner tonight, I thought about topping it with a poached egg next time — and then saw MaureenOnTheCape’s comment! BTW, I find unnecessary to use 4 Tbs. olive oil. Two is just fine, especially if you're drizzling some on at the finish.


11 months ago MaureenOnTheCape

I made as directed then added a poached egg on top for a shot of protein. Outstanding.


12 months ago HelenBackAgain

I would really strongly recommend peeling and seeding the tomatoes, which step is omitted here. It's a pain in the neck, but so worth it. Otherwise, great recipe.


12 months ago BettyShmetty

Oh. My. Gosh!!! This recipe is the BOMB!! The red pepper flakes add just the right "bite" and it's all just perfect!! Thank you for this recipe! I'll definitely be making it over and over!!


about 1 year ago kgindermaur

I made this last week, but omitted the eggplant since I couldn't find it at Trader Joe's. The only problem I ran into was that the bouquet of basil sort of fell apart 15-20 minutes in, so I had to rescue some displaced shreds from the pot. I think this will definitely become a summertime staple for me - the flavors are a perfect balance of sweet & savory!


almost 2 years ago swinginpolkadot

This looks yummy! Thanks for the advice, your pictures are very helpful and their descriptions funny!


about 2 years ago coolingwinds

This recipe is excellent! I enjoyed it so much with Parmesan mashed potatoes as my two side dishes. A great way not to waste produce also.


about 2 years ago ChristineB

I've made the Chez Panisse Vegetables version of this recipe (I think they're identical, but I'm not sure) countless times, and I can't think of a better way to showcase delicious summer vegetables! I've served it as a side with roast chicken, as a bruschetta topping, over barley, as an open face sandwich with fresh mozzarella melted under the is incredibly versatile, and I've never met anyone who didn't love it!


over 2 years ago smbpc

Make the original often. We lightly toss the eggplant in a tiny amount of oil and then bake rather than cook in pan. Reduces the oil in the entire dish and the eggplant retains its structural integrity. Dish is much better the second day.


almost 3 years ago Tan

Made this - love it. Followed the recipe exactly and it was truly amazing. Will be making again and again!


almost 3 years ago amp156

So delicious. Follwed the recipe almost exactly and added a dollop of Jennifer Perillo's "Creamy Homemade Ricotta"- amaziing!!


almost 3 years ago dani

Finally got around to trying this recipe. Glad I did! It's excellent! Thanks


almost 3 years ago fisheri

This is one of my favorite recipes. For brunch or dinner parties, it snazzes up nicely with seared scallops on the side.


almost 3 years ago saragrad

I made this for dinner last night and whilst it was delicious, the leftovers I had for lunch today - plus a crusty baguette to mop up all the juices - was phenomenal!


almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Oh, the heavenly leftovers. It's almost better the second day, slathered over some oven-toasted crostini with some goat cheese.


almost 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I made this over the weekend, to serve with pierino's epic "Porchetta." I didn't use bell peppers, but did add some gold zucchini for color, along with some green ones. Great recipe!! ;o)


almost 3 years ago boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I've changed up some of the ingredients, too, AJ. The importance seems to be in the layering of ingredients and flavors.


almost 3 years ago rlsalvati

Much easier to make than my old recipe (Julia Child's). We'll be having this weekly while the summer veggies are in season. My husband, not an eggplant eater, gave this a big thumbs up. The leftovers were great served cold for lunch, with a bit of feta and olive oil.


almost 3 years ago Sheilad2000

I made this yesterday...fabulous. Very pretty, too. And so much easier than my old standby recipe, which involved many hours and many, many bowls. This recipe's a keeper!


almost 3 years ago monkeymom

Loved this. I am usually hesitant to take on eggplant but everything came together really well. I peeled my eggplants. The combo of the peeling and the salting made the eggplant sweet and silky. Thanks for highlighting this!


almost 3 years ago charticus

Just moved to Paris and this was the first dish I made. And the second. If only I had the fridge space to stockpile for the winter...


about 3 years ago Leslie Bacon

Perfect timing...... Alice is celebrating forty years of Chez Panisse this weekend. This is a lovely tribute to her unending talent, inventiveness, and consistent belief in the fresh, the local, the belief in the ingredients themselves (and the belief that we all can make fabulous food like she and her staff turn out.


about 3 years ago Louisa

Better than any ratatouille I've tasted--small dice is nice, better flavor and not soupy at all.
I followed the recipe except for using yellow squash. Eggplant absorbed enough salt, so I only added pepper.
Great supper dish--served with cantaloupe, lime, pepper salad.


about 3 years ago Annie Balzer

I cooked this up with a few changes, and added some herbes de provence, yellow squash and roasted cherry tomatoes! It tasted good to me, really simple and a great way to use up lots of vegetables.


about 3 years ago Annie Balzer

I made this with yellow squash that I had leftover from a CSA box instead of the peppers, used dried basil instead of fresh (I didn't have any at home), and added a dash of herbes de provence. It was simple and tasty--and a great way to use up a bunch of vegetables!


about 3 years ago Annie Balzer

Sorry, didn't mean to post two comments!


about 3 years ago BlueKaleRoad

Another terrific Genius Recipe! Alice Waters knows how to do it right, that's for sure. Kristen, I look forward to your column each week. :)


about 3 years ago dymnyno

All those ingredients are in my garden right now! I make this a couple times a week. What is genius about Alice Waters is that this is what she is all about. There is nothing exotic about the ingredients or difficult in the method. Her recipes are so simple you think...I can do this.


about 3 years ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Your take on Ms. Waters is spot on, dymnyno!! The title of her book, "The Art of Simple Food," says it all. ;o)