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

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  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!
 
cv 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.
 
Matt L. July 15, 2015
looks lovely - I haven't had summer squash since I left Australia. I make a version of "ratatouille" except without the eggplant (aubergine) and it's delicious. Really fresh way to use up vegetables and it's super fast. I find if yemulsify some good olive oil into it at the end it really brightens it up - here's the recipe, www.timedeating.co.uk/ratatouille
 
Laura July 5, 2015
I made this last night and served with mozzarella cheese and farro. It was delicious!
 
Jennifer June 23, 2015
I made this again last night. So simple and so good. I might try adding herbs de Provence or bay leaf next time!
 
S. G. June 9, 2015
How much is 1/2 bunch of basil?<br />
 
Jennifer June 23, 2015
I'd say about a cup... But add less if you don't want too much basil!
 
vera May 4, 2015
Again, super delicious!
 
Peggio February 22, 2015
This recipe is THE best ... especially when one is craving Spring after a way too L O N G Winter.
 
Änneken February 8, 2015
This recipe should be cooked by anyone who does not believe that veggies are full of flavor. Simply outstanding!
 
coolingwinds December 30, 2014
I wanted to make a hearty veggie stew, so decided to cook my old friend, again. This time I decided to be creative and made an adjustment. I added an Anaheim chili to the sweet pepper portion, and fresh green onions to the brown onions, and Oh...My... GOSH! This recipe is so versatile. I love it!
 
Dee G. December 28, 2014
Delicious! Very clean, simple flavors and especially good with the grilled vegetables. Thanks for the great idea.
 
Tonya M. November 25, 2014
This is crazy good. I've made it a few times and tossed in whatever I had leftover from the last surge from the garden. It's delicious with parmesan cheese on top of a thick slice of fresh bread.
 
Robin October 23, 2014
How many servings does this recipe make? Thanks!
 
Jennifer October 23, 2014
A lot, I had plenty for at least 6 people as a main meal. More if it is being served as a side.
 
Robin October 23, 2014
thank you--perfect!
 
Jennifer October 20, 2014
Just made this, it came out GREAT. I added a bay leaf and some oregano for extra spice.
 
Jon G. October 6, 2014
I grilled the veggies first then chopped them and it came out amazing! So, everyone said
 
Caroline C. September 20, 2014
Great recipe! I actually enjoy chopping vegetables, so I'm very happy.
 
BakerMary September 13, 2014
Ok, so I should have figured you meant a BIG pot...
 
Horto September 7, 2014
lazy method<br /><br />i throw everything in the huge roasting pan for turkey and roast…walk the dog!!!
 
Jesse M. August 31, 2014
Sitting here eating this, one of my favorite recipes, and in my absent mindedness forgot the garlic. It is still delicious - an absolute summer harvest must. Thanks :)
 
Julie August 25, 2014
Simply Delicious, I did add some Italian parsley and only used basil leaves.
 
lalf August 25, 2014
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.
 
EJMdesign August 23, 2014
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.<br /><br />The rest of the recipe was great - before I added the eggplant back in it was delicious.
 
rachaelmr August 9, 2014
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.
 
Caty April 14, 2014
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!
 
stong March 25, 2014
Delicious. Great recipe for an easy, light dinner and it only gets better overnight. <br />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.
 
lalf March 4, 2014
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.
 
MaureenOnTheCape September 28, 2013
I made as directed then added a poached egg on top for a shot of protein. Outstanding.
 
HelenBackAgain September 5, 2013
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.
 
BettyShmetty August 27, 2013
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!!
 
kgindermaur July 7, 2013
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!
 
swinginpolkadot August 31, 2012
This looks yummy! Thanks for the advice, your pictures are very helpful and their descriptions funny!
 
coolingwinds August 13, 2012
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. <br />
 
ChristineB August 7, 2012
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 broiler...it is incredibly versatile, and I've never met anyone who didn't love it!
 
smbpc January 17, 2012
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.
 
Tan October 7, 2011
Made this - love it. Followed the recipe exactly and it was truly amazing. Will be making again and again!
 
amp156 October 3, 2011
So delicious. Follwed the recipe almost exactly and added a dollop of Jennifer Perillo's "Creamy Homemade Ricotta"- amaziing!!
 
dani September 24, 2011
Finally got around to trying this recipe. Glad I did! It's excellent! Thanks
 
fisheri September 17, 2011
This is one of my favorite recipes. For brunch or dinner parties, it snazzes up nicely with seared scallops on the side.
 
saragrad September 11, 2011
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!
 
boulangere September 17, 2011
Oh, the heavenly leftovers. It's almost better the second day, slathered over some oven-toasted crostini with some goat cheese.
 
AntoniaJames September 6, 2011
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)
 
boulangere September 17, 2011
I've changed up some of the ingredients, too, AJ. The importance seems to be in the layering of ingredients and flavors.
 
rlsalvati September 2, 2011
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.
 
Sheilad2000 August 31, 2011
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!
 
monkeymom August 30, 2011
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!
 
charticus August 29, 2011
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...
 
Leslie B. August 26, 2011
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.
 
Louisa August 26, 2011
Better than any ratatouille I've tasted--small dice is nice, better flavor and not soupy at all.<br />I followed the recipe except for using yellow squash. Eggplant absorbed enough salt, so I only added pepper.<br />Great supper dish--served with cantaloupe, lime, pepper salad.
 
Annie B. August 26, 2011
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.
 
Annie B. August 26, 2011
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!
 
Annie B. August 26, 2011
Sorry, didn't mean to post two comments!
 
BlueKaleRoad August 25, 2011
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. :)
 
dymnyno August 25, 2011
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.
 
AntoniaJames August 25, 2011
Your take on Ms. Waters is spot on, dymnyno!! The title of her book, "The Art of Simple Food," says it all. ;o)