Ratatouille

Ratatouille

The difference between a mediocre Ratatouille and an exceptional one is its consistency. When making this classic French dish, it is important to keep the chunks of vegetable (or rather, fruit) intact. Ratatouille doesn’t require as much cooking as some appear to believe, but it does take time to perfect it. Spend your time wisely in the preparation and an exceptional ratatouille will almost certainly follow, boil it or stew it and your guests can expect to receive soggy, limp and unimpressive ingredients – no matter how good they taste.

Despite it being one of my less favoured fruits, the aubergine (eggplant) is managing to barge its way into my diet, onto my blog and into your hearts. My recipe for Baba Ghanoush has succeeded in convincing me that there are ways to enjoy even one’s most detested food. I offer my previous post as a case in point; I thoroughly dislike parsnips, but have found that when added to a soup they work awfully well. Such a revelation can only serve to assist my frugality, since I am now far more willing to prepare ingredients that my mouth had never before entertained. One must remember that to be truly seasonal, it is necessary to embrace all avenues of food.

Ratatouille

As you probably know, almost all of the recipes that feature on this blog are my own. However, I often partake in a little research in order to ascertain the best method by which to make each dish. Though our methods don’t match exactly, Julia Child’s book ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’ provided good advice that I simply had to mention it. Julia’s book appears to be such a good reference for French cooking – I admire its authenticity. However, as a result of it being a genuine French cook book everything requires butter – an addition I don’t always agree with. Still, if you are a fan of excessive decadence in French cooking, this is a purchase to be made.

Ratatouille

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

• 2 courgettes, 1cm slices

• 1 aubergine, 1cm thick chunks

• 1 green pepper, thinly sliced

• 1 onion, thinly sliced

• 5 chestnut mushrooms, quartered

• 6 tomatoes, halved

• A handful of chopped parsley

• 2 cloves of garlic

• Salt

• Pepper

• Olive oil

Method:

1. Pop your courgettes and aubergine into a large bowl and coat with salt, leave to stand for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, slowly cook your pepper, onion and garlic in a generous glug of olive oil – don’t let them brown. Fry off the mushrooms to remove any excess water they may contain.

2. Dry off the courgettes and aubergine using paper towels and brown them in a frying pan. Put the onions and pepper in a casserole dish, add half the courgettes and aubergine and all of the mushrooms to the top. Slice the tomatoes in half, remove the seeds and squish so they can be layered. Sprinkle over a little parsley.

Ratatouille

3. Layer on the rest of the courgettes and aubergine, followed by a little more parsley. Pop in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes – serve immediately with bread or pasta.

Ratatouille

Cost: We got the vegetables at an incredibly reasonable price, but even if you don’t find them reduced they aren’t particularly expensive. This dish can be enjoyed as a meal, or as a side for as little as £3.60!

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143 comments on “Ratatouille

  1. Ben Gaiarin
    November 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Looks like a great side dish! Nice pictures!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 2:08 pm

      Thanks! It’s great with a little pasta for a main too.

  2. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    November 4, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    That looks amazing. We’ve been on an eggplant kick lately. They look gorgeous at the store. We need to try this!

  3. afternoonpopcornsnackgirl
    November 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm

    Yum! Love all that color too.

  4. CurtissAnn
    November 4, 2012 at 5:30 pm

    That is the most beautiful food I have ever seen.

  5. ahappylass
    November 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Oh my gosh. That looks SO tasty. What a great way to sub veggies for a warm dinner. Savory almost. We’re gonna have that for dinner tomorrow. Thanks!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 11, 2012 at 1:32 pm

      Hehe – thanks :). It was great. I hope you like!

  6. narf77
    November 4, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    We planted a vegetable garden for the first time on Serendipity Farm this year. Our studies (Diploma of Landscape Design) are almost over and we find ourselves with time on our hands to actually get into our own garden for once and suddenly our frugal thoughts turn to food! Well mine do…gluttony runs strong in this young padawan, especially the thought of growing as many of our own fresh organic and unusual vegetables as we can. This recipe is our vegetable futures wildest dreams. We planted tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini and I have garlic assembling in quantity underneath a small mulberry tree that my brother planted here years ago when he visited my dad. We use mushroom compost to top dress the bed and before we use it we give it a last hooray to grow us a free crop of mushrooms…we haven’t had to buy them for ages now and we have jars of dehydrated mushrooms for recipe futures. At the moment we have sacks of Swiss brown mushroom compost and are harvesting these delicious morsals and thinking up ways to use them. This recipe is the apex of what we will be cooking in our near future. When the harvest comes together this beautiful unctious creation will be whacked in our covered bbq (too hot for ovens!) and rendered spendiferous on Serendipity Farm. Thankyou again for another absolutely positively perfect recipe :)

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      Yes! Go properly frugal :D. Try not to beat me at my own game though! As soon as I have my very own garden I’m filling it with fruit and veg. Thanks so much – it all sounds rather idyllic! You’re making me green!

      • narf77
        November 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm

        It’s amazing how idyllic we make our lives sound isn’t it? I can paint a most beautiful picture of life in rural Tasmania on 4 acres overlooking the river living in the old grounds of the church next door surrounded by softly clucking hens and beautiful scenery and growing our own food…but it would all be too contrived and my natural honest streak would have to point out that we can’t set foot outside the door without getting something disgusting on our feet…the veggies have to be fenced off from attacks from all sides and the weeds are as high as an elephants eye…I like to be an honest blogger ;). I must admit, even I have my limits though…I rarely share how much devastation our dog Earl wreaks on our home…the world isn’t ready for it and it’s a perfect example of paying more for something DOESN’T make it better! 😉 I can’t wait to read about your veggie exploits. I am in the process of putting tendrils out over here to start a seedy penpal swap system to share seed material within Australia. It’s like Fort Knox over here and we can’t get good open pollinated material from the rest of the world so I have decided to go it alone and start swapping with “real people” out there and see if I can’t set up a network of likeminded antisocial middle aged hippies who want to keep open pollinated seed circulating at minimal cost and getting new and exciting varieties at the same time. What better than a penpal who shares your passion for seeds? We are a crazy antisocial bunch we seed-o-philes…it’s best we try not to scare the “real folk” out there and start underground networks like the ferrets and moles that we are 😉

        • frugalfeeding
          November 10, 2012 at 11:48 pm

          totally green… I don’t mind disgusting things so long as they stay on my feet… Seed swaps are getting fairly popular over here it would seem – I think it’s a great idea! I’d imagine the seed is better quality too. I love my life in Bristol, but I suppose it isn’t idyllic…

          • narf77
            November 11, 2012 at 3:11 am

            Idyllic is something that the sell on the side of air freshner spray. It doesn’t exist ;). Idyllic is being happy in your bones and being content with your lot. Remember where all the best comedy in the world comes from and you are right smack bang in the middle of the hub of civilisation (well to the yanks and us anyway 😉 ). I didn’t go to Bristol when we went to the UK back in 2006. we went north to Liverpool and south to South End on Sea and then on to London that I was most taken with. I kept looking up at the amazing buildings and scaring the natives…they thought that the pigeons were coming ;). The only thing that I really wish we had done when we went to the UK was go to the fantastic gardens over there. I could have cared less about them back then and have only grown into gardens in the last few years. We have plenty of disgusting things on our feet at any given time. Part and parcel of having guerilla chooks (chickens) and ducks free ranging everywhere ;).

          • frugalfeeding
            November 11, 2012 at 12:29 pm

            Haha – you’re quite right there. My bones are happy, I think… plenty of calcium. Oh yes, we are a very funny lot, us Brits. Liverpool? Disgusting… :D. London is great though. Part and parcel indeed – we do have great gardens everywhere 😀

          • narf77
            November 11, 2012 at 6:04 pm

            Steve the ex-pat comes from Liverpool but only till he was 4 and then he got bundled off to Essex. No beatles accent for him! Don’t rub it in about the gardens as I feel completely incompetant and ignorant for not even attempting to look at one :(. Now I can only lust from afar at their glory and beauty from my antipodian seat in the colonies

          • frugalfeeding
            November 14, 2012 at 7:30 pm

            Ahha – Essex is marginally better than Liverpool 😀 – of course it depends where in each area! You’ll see them eventually, I’m sure!

          • narf77
            November 14, 2012 at 7:36 pm

            I have seen them…back in 2006. Steve seems most content to live an antipodian life so they can’t have been that great 😉

  7. petit4chocolatier
    November 4, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    The vegetables layered look so succulent, so delicious! It is like a garden of glory. A healthy glory!

  8. An Unrefined Vegan
    November 4, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Oh my gosh, I totally agree! I’ve had my share of overcooked, soggy ratatouille. Yours looks as if it the veggies still have a nice bit of bite to them. Beautiful.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      Not too much bite, but a little bit of body! It need never be soggy again!

  9. avocadosandales
    November 4, 2012 at 7:04 pm

    This looks so gorgeous and delicious! I’m saving this to try soon!

  10. brothertom
    November 4, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I have such a hard time getting my kids to eat vegetables. I may give this one a try.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      Yes, please do – I’m sure they’ll take to it eventually :)

  11. lambyknits01
    November 4, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    I’m not a fan of eggplant either, but this dish looks amazing!

  12. The Literate Chef
    November 4, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    Great pictures. Looks delicious. I must confess, I do it by the stew method, which does taste great but is not photogenic.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks! Tut, but then if it works for you there’s no point changing it.

  13. Juls
    November 4, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I know I’ve said this before, but I am loving the newly enthusiastic and colourful photography since you got your new camera – these photos really are splendid!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks, Juls! I’m getting to grips with it more and more!

  14. lovefromitaly
    November 4, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    I LOVE ratatouille, and this one looks really good…

    PS I see you have a new camera – as I desperately need to buy a decent one do you mind if I ask you what you have bought? Your photos look great.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 4, 2012 at 10:16 pm

      Well… I got it quite a while ago 😀 – but yes, I got a Nikon D3100 – it’s an entry level DSLR but does a great job!

      • lovefromitaly
        November 6, 2012 at 8:10 am

        Thanks, I was actually looking at that one as it isn’t as ridiculously expensive as some (on a budget here)!

        • frugalfeeding
          November 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm

          It’s always good to try to stick to a budget 😀

  15. silverbells2012
    November 4, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    I love ratatouille (I worked for GEC Alsthom in France many years ago and the waiter in the canteen wouldn’t serve me until I learned to pronounce it properly). I also love baba ganoush but have yet to make it myself. Maybe next year when I have grown my first aubergines 😉

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 2:01 pm

      Haha – sounds like a fun waiter! I hope they turn out to be delicious :)

  16. the green panda
    November 4, 2012 at 10:08 pm

    thanks for dropping by my blog! i also have a page on facebook called “The Green Panda’s Kitchen”. still trying to figure how to add the “like” box on my page…i’m a bit of a computer illiterate… but please “like” on fb for support or get notify for new post! Thanks you for your time and support! =)

    • frugalfeeding
      November 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm

      No problem – you do that via the widgets in your dashboard!

  17. Ally
    November 4, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Wow! Very impressive. Looks delicious!
    I agree, your photos are fabulous :)

  18. Aimee@clevermuffin
    November 4, 2012 at 11:41 pm

    I love eggplants, always have. And I’m also a big fan of ratatouille, because it is a lot of fun to say (oh admit it), and because it’s such a yummy side. But never tried to make it. Now I don’t have an excuse with such easy instructions.

    • Aimee@clevermuffin
      November 4, 2012 at 11:51 pm

      And Mr Frugal, if I may ask (super politely) have you ever considered make a recipe index? I often come here for my dinner inspiration (though never blog about what I make – why?) and a recipe index would be super handy for me :) and it is all about me….

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      You’re easily pleased aren’t you, Aimee? Haha – only kidding! You have to make some – thems my orders!

  19. Gina
    November 4, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Delicious! Your photography is superb – what camera do you use?

  20. Kristina
    November 5, 2012 at 12:04 am

    I love eggplant, it’s so versatile! I wonder if you tried the thinner ones (sometimes called Japanese or Asian eggplants here in the US) you might like them more? I find them to be less bitter and they’ve got fewer seeds.

    Never tried ratatouille before, I kept meaning to after watching the movie, so this is a great reminder :)

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:58 pm

      I’m afraid I haven’t and I don’t think they sell them here either. I’ll keep a lookout though! You should definitely make some!

  21. Catherine
    November 5, 2012 at 1:33 am

    Those photos are just beautiful. And I do love a good ratatouille…

  22. poorpaleo
    November 5, 2012 at 1:48 am

    I’m trying this tomorrow. Thank you for posting all these great recipes!

  23. EllaDee
    November 5, 2012 at 1:58 am

    This is a fantastic ratatouille, and a relevation to me. I’m sorry to say all the ratatouille I have eaten to date matches your what not to do description… and as I’m an unfuusy all-vege eater I’ve accepted it, but no longer… this is the new benchmark 😉

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:57 pm

      Oh well, society has impressed an imperfect image of ratatouille upon us – I’m simply attempting to dispel myths! 😀 Thanks!

  24. thevanillabeandiaries
    November 5, 2012 at 1:58 am

    Your photos are beautiful as always! Looks delicious :)

  25. flyfishbrat
    November 5, 2012 at 2:01 am

    I love how you have made this old time favorite of mine. I wish I would have learned from you how to make this dish. Thanks so much for your wonderful recipe. I will be using it the next time I make ratatouille.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      Thanks for such a great compliment – You’ll love this version, for sure.

  26. mumchic
    November 5, 2012 at 4:31 am

    Omg, that looks totally delish! Yum :)

  27. emmycooks
    November 5, 2012 at 4:34 am

    What beautiful vegetables! Julia would be proud, I’m sure. :)

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Thanks so much – I guess she probably would… though I don’t know anything about her…

  28. cookinginsens
    November 5, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Love the 2nd to the last photo, but all are good. Bite-able :)

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:55 pm

      Such a compliment coming from you, Rosemary!

  29. egg me on
    November 5, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    What gorgeous photos, man!

  30. lmicheles
    November 5, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Butter, excessive sometimes. Your blog is exceptional, also.

  31. candidsbyjo
    November 5, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    I’ve never had ratatouille before – which is a disgrace considering I love the Pixar film – but think it’ll make the round for my healthy-eats initiative. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      Haha – I’m not entirely sure that make it a disgrace, but you should definitely make it! No problem 😀

  32. GiRRL_Earth
    November 5, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Could you FedEx some of this to me in Boston, please?

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      I don’t think we do FedEx here… or do we? I’m not sure. Either way… it would get messy.

  33. anniejameson
    November 5, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Looks great! I’ve just got the book; Mastering the Art of French Cooking, so will definitely try!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:53 pm

      Thanks so much 😀 – please do, you’ll love it.

  34. Karista
    November 6, 2012 at 1:57 am

    I love ratatouille, but like you, I like the veggies to look like veggies. This is a delightful and delicious looking recipe. I think it’s time to make ratatouiile again. :) Love your pictures Frugal! Excellent!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm

      Exactly! It isn’t a sauce! Yes, Karista! Get your ratatouille on!

  35. marymtf
    November 6, 2012 at 7:55 am

    Good heavens! This is a delicious variation on my usually soggy version. Thanks.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      I’m sure it isn’t too soggy :). Thanks so much :)

  36. Bam's Kitchen
    November 6, 2012 at 10:18 am

    I could not help but think of the disney film when I seen your recipe. Just as in this show your vegetables have a lovely consistency and lined up in a decorative row in the dish. A great harvest of flavors. Take Care, BAM

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:46 pm

      Haha – my sister said the same thing. Thanks 😀 – you too, BAM.

  37. ripe red berries
    November 6, 2012 at 4:06 pm

    I’m saving this one for next year when my veggie garden is full to the brim with delicious, organic vegetables. I’ve never made ratatouille, but do enjoy it. Thanks for the yummy looking photos and simple directions.

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      That sounds like a great idea! You’ll definitely enjoy that!

  38. The Economic Vegetarian
    November 6, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Fantastically simple and healthy dish. Great recipe, can’t wait to try it out :)

  39. Barbara Bamber | justasmidgen
    November 6, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    This turned out so lushly beautiful! It’s a dazzling dish of colors.. mine can sometimes end up grey and soggy, thank you for walking us through how to do this correctly!

    • frugalfeeding
      November 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm

      Fantastic, thanks Barb’ :D. I like to do things properly 😀

  40. Somer
    November 6, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    The only thing I’d do different is sub the parsley for fresh basil. This looks beautiful Nick and is one of my all time favorite dishes. I like to eat the leftovers cold on a good chuck of focaccia. :)

    • frugalfeeding
      November 8, 2012 at 1:45 pm

      I think that’s probably acceptable :D. Thanks, Somer! I’ve never heard the word chuck though.

      • Somer
        November 8, 2012 at 3:17 pm

        haha, synonymous with “throw” :)

  41. chef mimi
    November 6, 2012 at 10:26 pm

    love that photo!!!

  42. grannyK
    November 7, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    Your blog is making me hungry!!!!

  43. lauralovinglife
    November 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm

    Love it, My husband is from France and just loves when I make this particular dish. Thank you for Sharing!

  44. createengwp
    November 7, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    Photography skill is awesome. Check out that focus!