Make Ahead

Classic Ratatouille From Alice Waters

August 24, 2011
41 Ratings
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

Ratatouille is a 2007 Pixar film about Remy, a culinarily talented rat, and Alfredo Linguini, an awkward garbage boy. The former’s dream is to cook in Paris’s most prominent restaurant (Gusteau’s) while the latter is rather, well, lost. When Linguini recognizes that Remy could be his ticket to a stable path and career, the two collaborate, make magic in the kitchen, and end up serving Paris’s most cold-hearted restaurant critic a dish so good he cries.

Kidding! Ratatouille is a southern French dish of stewed vegetables—commonly featuring eggplant, sweet peppers, summer squash, garlic, onion, and tender green herbs, in a tomato-based sauce. This version, as we know it, only came about around 200 years ago. Before that, “ratatouille” merely referred to a chunky vegetable stew.

This Genius ratatouille recipe from Alice Waters' 2007 cookbook The Art of Simple Food 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. Plus, it’s ratio is easy to remember: All vegetables conveniently work out to about a pound.

Salting, draining, and patting the eggplant cubes dry helps to remove excess water from the fruit (yes, it’s a fruit), which concentrates its flavor and makes for better browning later. Don’t be alarmed if your wrung-out eggplant is extra-thirsty for oil, and starts sticking to the pan—sticking is good for browning! Simply add another glug of oil, and stir frequently to keep the crisp faces from sticking too much and burning. From here, the eggplant gets folded into a saucy, flavorful base of peppers, squash, garlic, and tomatoes.

Now back to that basil bouquet (exactly as it sounds: a smaller bunch of basil tied into a bouquet with kitchen twine). Basil, as opposed to the woodier classics—thyme and rosemary—adds a liveliness to the vegetable party, pulling out the fruitiness of the tomatoes and bell peppers. This bouquet stays in only long enough to impart its aroma, replaced by a handful of its vegetal, freshly chopped leaves.

Helpful tools for this recipe:
- Five Two Essential Knives
- Le Creuset Dutch Oven
- Ekobo Bamboo Colander

Genius Recipes

What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Classic Ratatouille From Alice Waters
  • 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 basil, tied in a bouquet with kitchen twine + 6 basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 pinch 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • GothamChef
  • Danna Farabee
    Danna Farabee
  • Hannah
  • Florence Essman
    Florence Essman
  • Licole Paroly
    Licole Paroly
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

108 Reviews

flutephobia August 20, 2023
I make this every year!
Mary L. August 11, 2023
This recipe is awesome! First, the aroma of it cooking is heavenly! I made it as the recipe is written. I let it gain flavor by refrigerating it for a day. Then I divided it into fourths. The first I used
simply as a side dish. Next I used it to make omelets the following morning. I added a bit of freshly grated sharp cheddar. The rest I froze. A few days later I defrosted and heated another fourth and served it over multi grain rice as a side dish to an arctic char dish. Then a few days after that I defrosted and heated the rest up with more rice for a nice lunch! Soooo good! I’m sure it will become a regular addition to my recipe collection.
Emily June 23, 2023
Excellent recipe! Maybe I am lacking some info, but I always just sauté the onions and then soon add in eggplant and peppers and sauté with a little more olive oil, then proceed with the rest. Also I add herb de Provence and thyme rather than basil unless I have a bunch from the garden. I serve over couscous or rice. I guess I make it the way way! My summer favorite!
judy September 10, 2022
Only difference for me is that I roast the eggplant in the oven, while cooking the rest of the ingredients on the stove, then stir in and flow rest of recipe. They have an amazing flavor that way, and also, I use less oil. Otherwise, all good!
GothamChef August 28, 2022
Excellent recipe that really brings out the flavor of summer vegetables. If you make too much, it freezes well. Lamentably, once I made it with dried basil when I realized I was out of fresh (always check your ingredients first). While not AS good, it was still a lovely dish.
Claudia October 3, 2021
Delicious but needed to augment flavors a bit so it wouldn’t be bland. Added a bit of balsamic vinegar, a pinch more of chili flakes, and a 1/4 cup of pesto.
JanetJayeCrochet September 5, 2021
This took a long time for me to make, but well worth it. I took some ideas from other Reviews and added a dash of dry red wine. I served it over cheesy grits with shrimp. Since I’m newly gluten free, I almost didn’t miss the crusty French bread to dip.
Cyndylsn August 21, 2021
Going to make this today looks yummy. I am the only one who will eat this in my household. Would it be ok to freeze small portions
judy September 10, 2022
I would be thinly one that would eat it in my household, also. But I'm worth it! Eggplant is one of my favorite dishes, and this is one of my favorite preparation for it.
Miche May 25, 2023
Yes, it freezes well.

Danna F. August 16, 2021
Made the best of my farmer's market finds... it was easy and the steps clearly laid out. I served it over polenta.
Hannah July 20, 2021
Made this two nights ago, and ate leftovers today for lunch. Letting it sit in the fridge really brought out a heck lot more flavors. Long live summer tomatoes!! 🍅
jsnow August 18, 2020
Recipe is perfect as is. It highlights the flavor of fresh summer bounty!
Emily July 2, 2020
This was delicious! Aside from the prep work it came together easily. I subbed the basil and chili flake for a bundle of: fresh thyme, a few sprigs of oregano and a spring of rosemary. Then added fresh chopped basil, parsley and oregano before serving.
yukus M. October 13, 2019
I love the simplicity of this ratatouille. Thank you so much for sharing.
Florence E. October 6, 2019
Made it for 1st time. Lots of 'cutting', but well worth it. Turned out great. My basil was bad, so had to use dry, bottled basil. Instead of cloves I used dehydrated garlic. Entire batch has been devoured. We had homemade pizza yesterday and 1 section we topped with this recipe. Ended up putting some leftover spaghetti sauce on top as family wanted more red sauce. Requested to make again this week. Now that's a first for my family.
theconfusedquilter August 1, 2019
This is a much loved recipe in my kitchen. My family loves to eat it, and I just love making it. Love all the chopping and prep work--it's very relaxing and all those vegetables just smell divine and are so beautiful. We love it on it's own, topped with fried eggs, topping cheese grits or as a side with pork chops or roast chicken.
Licole P. June 11, 2019
My riff on this recipe is one of my favorite things to make and share. Sometimes I like to roast the eggplant in the oven (no salting and draining needed) to speed things up a little. I always, always add red wine to make a more robust flavor and add a little splash of something acidic - red wine vinegar, capers, a squeeze of lemon over the top, or sometimes even some preserved lemon. It's so good, and even makes for a perfect breakfast topped with eggs the next morning!
Miche May 25, 2023
Good in omelets or crepes also.
Austin B. April 9, 2019
I made this the other day, and I wasn't too impressed, it was way too sweet. I let it sit one day and am eating a bowl right now, and wow. Wow. One night of sitting completely changed this dish and made it absolutely incredible.
Deborah A. August 30, 2018
I never tire of trying a new ratatouille recipe. I originally fell in love with Janet Fletcher's recipe from her book, "More Vegetables, Please", a completely oven-roasted dish which adds black olives, capers, parsley and red wine vinegar. Still, I long to recreate the best-tasting version I've ever had in (of all places) Winchester, England. Perhaps this one will come close!
Nancy B. August 26, 2018
I've made it this way for many years. Great on it's own or served over pasta or polenta. Don't forget the cheese.
Jusika July 26, 2018
has anyone tried making a tart version of this? basically I am thinking of using puff pastry, and am wondering if it might be a better idea to make the ratatouille as is and spoon it all into the tart and then bake (or simply layer raw veggies in the pastry?)
lalf July 26, 2018
Make the ratatouille, cook it to a consistancy that's not too wet. Then bind it with 3 or 4 eggs, 1 Tb AP flour and a tsp b. powder. Follow instructions for making a Persian kuku / kookoo. Should be good.