Alice Waters' Ratatouille

August 24, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

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
Prep time: 20 min
Cook time: 50 min


  • 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
In This Recipe


  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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Reviews (85) Questions (2)

85 Reviews

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!<br />
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.
Annie September 13, 2017
Is this a pound total for all veggies?<br />
Upsidedownpineapple September 18, 2017
Yes. I doubled the recipe also as this recipe freezes well.
Nancy July 27, 2018
No, a lb weight for each vegetable. about 5 lb total (including tomato, pepper, eggplant, onion and summer squash).
Upsidedownpineapple September 9, 2017
This recipe was absolutely glorious. I doubled the ingredients and added a little thyme to the bouquet. It was wonderful served with a simple thyme, chive and Parmesan polenta for an elegant weekend supper.
Melissa M. August 13, 2017
Looks really pretty on the plate and delicious. My mother used to add chunked celery and sliced olives, so today in her memory I dared to add. Double win. Thank you for posting this recipe.
Tad July 26, 2017
This is a great recipe for a very delicious summer dish. My only changes were - I roasted the eggplant, green and yellow squash in olive oil in the oven before adding them to the dish. It works better for me to get a nice golden color on them. Apart from the basil I also tossed in an additional bundle of fresh spices like thyme and marjoram, and above all, a little sugar. I also used a little can of tomato sauce and some white wine. Cheers.
rlsalvati September 17, 2016
No need to rinse. Sometimes I don't even bother to salt and drain the eggplant.
KA September 17, 2016
Question about the first step -- are we meant to rinse the eggplant after it is diced and salted? It says to let drain (and pat dry in the following step) but never says anything about rinsing to begin with :/
John K. December 16, 2015
Quite good. We served it the way a local restaurant does, over fresh polenta and sprinkled with some goat cheese.
leslie November 9, 2015
Helen Morrissey --- ratatouille is not a main course, it is a side dish......
Helen M. November 9, 2015
Hahaha, fair enough. It was enough by the way. There was even a little over.
Helen M. November 6, 2015
When this says serves 6-8 does it mean as a side or what? I am serving it with grilled fish and polenta for nine people. Not sure it is enough.
coolingwinds November 9, 2015
The recipe is very forgiving. You can safely add an extra zucchini or more tomatoes, etc if you need to cover a larger crowd, but generally I use it as a side dish. However, it's so good I can see eating it over polenta with a glass of wine! In fact, I might steal that idea Sandra. ????
Sandra F. September 4, 2015
I love this recipe! I usually double the tomatoes and add some herb du provence. Serve it up topped with parmesan or even goat cheese, with a nice crusty loaf of French bread - Delish! Great way to use up all these end of summer veggies from the garden and it freezes great!
Kate's K. September 1, 2015
Eggplant - peeled or unpeeled?
Tucker &. September 3, 2015
Looking closely at the photo it appears that the eggplant is unpeeled.
SophieL August 27, 2015
Delicious! Easy to make. I had most of the veggies in my most recent CSA basket. Even better the next day.
Annie S. August 13, 2015
I love this version of the classic! I make enough to make sure there are leftovers. I use it for an omelette filling and add Mornay sauce for decadence. Just add some crusty bread and enjoy.
yasmin August 3, 2015
i want to try to make this, but is it really ok to eat cold??
Tucker &. September 23, 2015
It's wonderful cold spread of some crusty bread. Hot, room temp or cold, it's fabulous!
702551 August 2, 2016
In "Chez Panisse Cooking" rendition of the ratatouille recipe, chef de cuisine Paul Bertolli states in the headnote that the dish is best served cold and actually improves in flavor after a couple days of refrigeration.<br /><br />Bertolli's earlier version is a far superior recipe than the Waters version (which is just a bunch of shortcuts). The Bertolli version has the eggplant baked to avoid heavy oil absorption; this is classic Bertolli attention to detail.<br /><br />Bertolli was a far better cook than Waters and a better writer to boot.
Jen July 27, 2015
What kind of peppers should I use? I can't stand bell peppers.. what are sweet peppers?
Seth C. August 8, 2015
Maybe try Hungarian pan frying peppers, they are thinner than a bell pepper so they will cook faster. I get them at my local farmers market they are pale green and kind of long but not spicy. If you wanted a little kick maybe a pablano pepper?
Judith July 27, 2015
I have SO many tomatoes! I'm wondering if this will freeze well so we can enjoy the harvest in the depth of winter too. Can anyone tell me?
FM July 27, 2015
Yes, it does freeze fine!
Live P. July 19, 2015
This looks just lovely. I love the variety of vegetables that is in this dish, and the colors are just marvelous. Although, I can't help but think of the movie Ratatouille anytime I see a recipe or hear it mentioned :-). I may have to give this a try sometime soon.