This clean and baked ratatouille recipe will blow you away! What started out as a leftover meal for poor people in the South of France, especially in Nizza (Provence), slowly conquered the hearts of many gourmets.
The ratatouille name origin
Each country has its own leftover meal made from typical regional products. The ingredients are very variable and only the cooking method remains the same. Ratatouille is exactly the French counterpart to the American stew, the German Eintopf, the Spanish paella or the Asian curry.
One thing that clearly points out that this used to be a dish for poor people is the name itself. “Rata” can be translated as ” fodder” and “touille” means just “stirring”. If you translate it literally, ratatouille means something like “the stirred fodder”. People often used vegetable waste for preparation and cooked it for hours.
Ratatouille is nowadays well-known throughout the world and so popular that Disney dedicated a film specifically for this vegetable dish. Today I would like to show you a slightly different version. What the little rat has achieved in the movie “Ratatouille”, I would like you to accomplish as well.
It’s worth the time investment
This is a refined presentation of the traditional ratatouille recipe that has its orginin in France, especially in Nizza (Provence). My interpretation is perhaps a bit more elaborate than the classic original, but a real treat for the palate.
Chopping everything up and making a classic stew based on aromatic vegetables, that is probably the typical and quickest preparation method. But sometimes it is worth to invest a little more time in the kitchen. This is true even if you are very busy and prefer simple and quick clean eating recipes.
For this vegan recipe without any saturated fat I needed 90 minutes from cutting the vegetables till serving. Yes, I know…this is really long for me as most of my recipes don’t take longer than 30 minutes. You won’t find many wholesome recipes on leanjumpstart.com that will beat this long preparation time.
Standing almost one hour longer than usually in the kitchen made really the difference. This has not only to do with ratatouille’s gorgeous appearance but also with the overwhelming taste of this meal. Why?
My best ratatouille recipe convinces even eggplant hater
See, my family and me we are not too fond of eggplants in a vegetable stew – in doubt, we’d rather go without them. Partly it’s a texture thing, partly it’s taste…
But the thinly sliced eggplants arranged with other veggies combined with a herb oil seasoning brought out the best of eggplants taste. They transformed us to real eggplant fans.
And while the lean, vegan ratatouille food is baking in the oven melting flavors into a very satisfying dish, you have plenty of time to clean up your kitchen and set the table. Check it out for yourself!Print
Baked ratatouille recipe
A gorgeous tasting and eye-catching casserole dish
- Prep Time: 40
- Cook Time: 50
- Total Time: 90
For the base sauce
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- Salt, to taste
- Pepper, to taste
- 1 can (15 oz.) crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon thyme
For the sliced veggies
- 1 eggplant
- 1–2 zucchinis or yellow squash
- 3 Roma tomatoes
For the herb oil seasoning
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons fresh basil (approx 15 leaves)
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons fresh thyme
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven for 190˚C/375˚F.
- Slice the eggplants, zucchini, and tomatoes, into thin slices (approximately 1/16-inch rounds), then set aside. (You can also use a mandoline slicer for the vegetables).
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a pot.
- Sauté onions, garlic, and bell peppers until soft.
- Add crushed tomatoes, thyme and season with salt and pepper.
- Let it simmer for a few minutes.
- Then transfer sauce to a casserole and smooth the tomato sauce with your spatula.
- Arrange the sliced veggies in alternating patterns, (e.g. eggplant, zucchini, tomato, eggplant etc.) and season with salt and pepper.
- Combine herb oil seasoning and sprinkle over veggies.
- Cover the baking dish with tin foil and bake for 35 minutes. After 35 minutes, uncover, then bake for an additional 15 minutes.
- Serve ratatouille as a side dish with whole grain rice or as a main dish.
- Tastes fantastic also the next day.
- Leftovers make an excellent vegetable salad. Simply add some salad dressing and it’ s done.
- Serving Size: 2
A freezer friendly meal
Can’t eat all at once? The great thing about this plant based casserole is, that you could freeze it in airtight containers for up to 3 months. To thaw, place in the fridge overnight. Reheat in the microwave or baking oven. Note that the texture and consistency of the vegetables that have been frozen will be slightly mushier.
How to save fat calories
How to combine this eggplant dish?
Ratatouille is an ideal side dish for summer specials. It is light, colourful and can be prepared to suit individual tastes. Depending on the veggies, herbs and spices used, you can create your own unique taste.
The traditional way to combine a ratatouille dish is to serve it with white bread, potatoes, meat or fish. I love however to serve this refined composition with brown rice, polenta, mashed potatoes or wedges. On festive occcasions I serve it with a salmon steak.
Leftovers can also be used as an excellent vegetable salad. Simply add some salad dressing and it’ s ready.
How to save fat calories
If weigh loss is your goal you can use only 2 tablespoons of oil to prepare the aromatic herb oil seasoning. It is not only the quantity but also the quality of the oil that is important in this context. Cold pressed canola oil or extra virgin olive oil is your best choice. Vegetables, herbs and spices can be consumed in any quantity.