Monday, March 3, 2014

Oven-Roasted Ratatouille

Roasting vegetables brings out their terrific flavor.  This vegetable dish, either side or a vegetarian main dish, is easy, colorful and good for you!  If you like ratatouille, once you've tried it roasted like this you'll never go back to preparing it the traditional method.  Not only do the vegetables retain their shape and identity, but roasting the traditional garden stew elevates it by caramelizing the vegetables so they take on a lovely sweetness and toasted flavor.

There are endless ways to prepare ratatouille, from the traditional Nician rough-chop garden stew (ratatouille niçoise), to the classic ratatouille à la Julia Child, to the artfully towering creations of contemporary ratatouille in restaurants (confit byaldi).  For example, in the Mastering the Art of French Cooking,  Julia Child insists every vegetable must be cooked separately before they "partake of a brief communal simmer."  The eggplants are cut into slim rectangles; the tomatoes are peeled, juiced and slivered; the bell peppers must be green.  Then all are layered into a casserole and basted heroically.  Julia Child took these pains to ensure that every vegetable maintained its dignity, without melting into a muddy soup.

Our ratatouille is an oven-roasted variation of styles, somewhere between Julia Child's perfectionism and just giving up and dumping everything in the pot at once.  It’s a happy compromise and a no fuss recipe.  Not every pot in the house is used as Julia might have you do.  It takes little time or planning to pull off, but gives us a light—but not too light—new favorite way to prepare ratatouille.  The sweetness of roasted tomatoes, the licorice flavor of summer squashes and basil are important flavor component of this recipe.  Fresh basil is delivered in two stages, via a bouquet that swishes along in the baking pan the whole time, and a smattering of fresh chopped leaves at the end.  A pinch of red pepper flakes sharpens the focus, and a finishing spritz of freshly squeezed lemon juice pulls the whole dish together.  What you end up with is a humble stew, yes, but one that has every bit of integrity any summer harvest deserves.  Even in winter.  Enjoy!

Serves 2-4.  Ready in 45 minutes.

  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 Yellow Squash
  • 4-5 Tomatoes
  • 1 large Red Pepper 
  • 2 slices of Red Onion (optional)
  • 2 stalks of fresh Basil
  • Cooking Oil of your preference
  • Red Pepper flakes
  • Salt and Pepper;  to taste
  • Lemon
This recipe can be adapted to suit your own taste.  Please feel free to add additional ingredients like mushrooms, fennel or eggplant.


  • Preheat the oven to 375 F
  • Wash and clean all vegetables.
  • Cut the vegetables (we like to choose different cuts for each ingredient).
  • Sprinkle and toss in salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of oil.
  • Fill the vegetables into a small oven-proof casserole dish.  
  • Cover with aluminum foil (shiny side in).
  • Bake for 35 minutes at 375 F or until the vegetables are tender.
  • During bake time prepare prepare a side dish and chiffonier basil for garnish.
  • Uncover und let cool for a minute.  This is also a good time to check for seasoning and to add additional salt if needed.
  • Plate and garnish generously with basil, fresh ground pepper, and a spritz of lemon juice.


Serving Suggestions:
  • with pieces of crusty bread
  • over pasta or rice
  • leftover ratatouille makes a great stew the next day


        Nina & Spencer

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  1. Wow that looks wonderful!! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thank you so much for the nice comment. It's nice to hear from you because I really enjoy reading your blog :)