Elegant French cuisine meets hearty home cooked comfort food with this traditional veggie bake.
Quick, name the first French dish you can think of.
Alright, since you’re here, you probably already had ratatouille on the brain. But even if you weren’t just looking at this recipe headline, there’s a good chance this famous French stew would’ve come to mind. Ratatouille is a classic French dish. But unlike some of the other famous foods you may associate with the country (escargot, anyone?), ratatouille is less delicacy and more comfort food.
This simple vegetable dish has its origins in Nice among the lower class. Because its simple, fresh ingredients were easily accessible to farmers, this vegetable stew found popularity as a hearty, inexpensive meal for rural families.
Of course, we no longer think of this French dish as a poor man’s stew. While the dish is still popular in a variety of forms, traditional ratatouille as we think of it today often takes the form a baked dish. However, this homey, hearty vegetable bake does still carry a certain rustic charm. Tap into the perfect combination of rustic, home cooked comfort food and classic French elegance with this traditional ratatouille recipe.
A Traditional Vegetarian Meal
All too often, when we think of vegetarian dishes, we think of meat-centric meals minus the meat. The reality is, the world of vegetarian cooking is so much more than simply cutting out or replacing meat. Dishes like this classic ratatouille, a traditionally meatless casserole, prove just how delicious naturally meatless recipes can be.
This traditional ratatouille recipe sticks to the original ingredients that made this dish a national classic. Thin sliced eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and tomato bake in a white wine tomato sauce complete with sautéed bell peppers and the rich flavors of garlic and basil.
This dish packs rustic, homemade flavor into a warm, filling dinner. You may expect a dinner this hearty and comforting to be fairly heavy. However, this clean recipe has just 119 calories per half-cup serving. A naturally light and vegetarian dish, this traditional ratatouille recipe is the perfect example of clean eating as a return to food as it should be, not just a trendy diet fad.
Prep and Serve Tips
After preheating the oven, the first thing you’ll want to do is lay the sliced eggplant on a dry paper towel and sprinkle with salt. Don’t skip this step! It’s actually a super important part of the prep for this recipe. Called degorging, this simple process removes excess moisture from the eggplant. This crucial first step is an easy way to ensure your dish doesn’t get too soggy.
Enjoy this light meal with a fresh side salad or even a piece of crunchy, warm French bread. Perfect for a cool evening, this traditional recipe is the perfect combination of French elegance and rustic warmth and flavor.
Traditional Ratatouille Recipe
- 1 pound eggplant cut into 1/4 inch circles
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup basil fresh, chopped
- 3/4 cup parsley fresh, chopped
- 1 yellow onion large, thinly sliced
- 3 bell peppers any color, chopped small
- 1/3 cup dry white wine such as a chardonnay (or substitute vegetable broth)
- 2 cups tomato sauce no sugar added
- 2 zucchini large, cut into 1/4 inch circles
- 2 yellow squash large, cut into 1/4 inch circles
- 4 tomatoes large, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch circles
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch casserole dish with nonstick spray and set aside.
- Lay the eggplant on a paper towel and sprinkle with half the salt and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, half the black pepper, basil, parsley, onion, and bell pepper. Cook until the vegetables are soft and add the white wine simmer for one minute then add the tomato sauce. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat.
- Pour half of the sauce into the casserole dish. On top of the sauce place one piece of eggplant, one piece of zucchini, one piece of yellow squash, and one piece of tomato - each slightly overlapping. Repeat in long lines over the sauce. Spread the remaining sauce over the layer of vegetables. Repeat the strips of overlapping eggplant, zucchini, squash, and tomato. Sprinkle with remaining salt and black pepper.
- Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the top lightly begins to brown. Let cool slightly before serving.
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