This recipe is incredibly rich in vegetables, and the traditional version is already Paleo-friendly. There are two main ways to serve it – you can keep it completely vegetarian-friendly, perhaps for a Meatless Monday meal. Or, option number two, you can top the stew your favorite protein. Grilled chicken, roast beef, or sausages are all delicious served atop the vegetables. I think the dish is best in the summer when the vegetables are at their most fresh and bountiful.
Many of the vegetables in this dish – eggplant, bell pepper, and tomatoes – are members of the nightshade family. Some people are sensitive to nightshade vegetables, in which case this recipe would not be suitable. The colorful vegetables make up the essence of the dish and lend a bounty of flavor to the hearty stew.
Often in ratatouille, fresh herbs such as basil and parsley are added to develop deeper flavor in the dish. Try to get your hands on some fresh herbs for the best results. The type of olive oil also makes a difference; high quality olive oil will reflect in the final taste.
There is quite a lot of prep involved for all of the afore-mentioned vegetables, dicing and chopping. When cooking, the vegetables are added to the pan in slow order. The next part is waiting; the ratatouille becomes more flavorful the longer that it cooks. The vegetables melt into each other and become silky. Stir in those fresh herbs at the last minute and serve.
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 large eggplant, cubed
- 1 lb. zucchini, diced
- 1/2 lb. yellow squash, diced
- 2 sprigs thyme
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 7-8 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade
- Heat the olive oil and garlic in a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until the garlic is fragrant and starts to brown.
- Add in the onion and bell pepper. Cover and cook for 8-9 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are wilted. Remove the lid and sauté until the onions start to brown.
- Add the tomatoes, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes or until soft. Stir in the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and thyme. Generously sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
- Once the vegetables are soft, remove the lid. Let simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove the sprigs of thyme and adjust salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the fresh basil and parsley right before removing the pan from the heat. Top with additional fresh herbs to serve if desired.