This easy ratatouille recipe is made with a bounty of summer vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, and peppers. Ripe tomatoes and tamarind paste give this dish a special flavor that is both sweet and sour!
When it's peak summer, and you're bathing in the abundance of summer produce, easy ratatouille is the recipe to make. Loads of veggies like squash and peppers cook up in a tomato "sauce" (hint: it's just tomatoes and olive oil) and get accentuated with a secret ingredient: tamarind! If you've never cooked with tamarind paste or chutney, have no fear!
Tamarind is a tree native to tropical Africa that bears edible fruit. It is intensely sweet, sour, and tart, all at once. In this recipe, we will combine tamarind with fresh summer tomatoes to create a sauce that is incredibly delicious and addictive. The sour flavor cuts through a lot of the sweetness from the tomatoes.
You can buy tamarind whole, but I recommend buying it as a paste, or a chutney. Tamarind paste is typically just pure tamarind that is ground into a paste. Make sure to check the ingredients.
Tamarind chutney is a sauce that typically has other ingredients like sugar, garlic, chili, etc. For this recipe, I recommend you use paste, but either works in a pinch.
Aside from tamarind, the vegetables in this recipe are just dressed in high-quality olive oil, salt, and pepper. Make sure to use really good ingredients here. The natural juices of the vegetables create a beautiful and light sauce all on their own. As you probably already know, summer produce doesn't need much tinkering.
Let's go over the other ingredients you'll need to make this sweet & sour ratatouille!
EASY RATATOUILLE INGREDIENTS:
- Eggplant: While you can use any kind of eggplant for this recipe, my favorite variety is Japanese eggplant. They are typically smaller, sweeter, and silkier. Use small eggplants if possible.
- Zucchini: Green or yellow squash will be perfect! I like to use a combo of both if I have it.
- Onions: Use large white onions that are labeled "sweet" or Vidalia.
- Tomatoes: My only request is that you use really ripe, juicy summer tomatoes. If you're making this out of season, use a large can (~28oz.) of whole tomatoes instead.
- Bell Peppers: Any color except green will do! Make sure to remove the stem, pith and seeds.
- Garlic: You need lots of garlic for this recipe. It adds a complexity of flavor that just can't be beat!
- Fresh Herbs: I really recommend buying fresh basil for this recipe. Parsley or cilantro would also work well here. You could even go crazy and use all 3 if you wanted!
- Dried Chili Flakes: For a little heat.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: Use high-quality oil to cook up the veggies and help turn the fresh tomatoes into sauce.
- Tamarind: You can buy fresh tamarind whole, but I recommend buying it as a paste, or a chutney. You can find tamarind paste online, in the specialty foods section of your supermarket, or at your local Asian grocery store.
HOW TO MAKE THIS RATATOUILLE:
- Dilute your tamarind paste: Whisk tamarind paste (which is super thick) with some hot water. Set aside!
- Start by cooking the eggplant. It's important to sauté the eggplant alone in the pan. If you don't properly brown it, it'll be soggy/foamy/the wrong texture. Hot olive oil and the biggest pan you can find are the trick here. If you're not using Japanese eggplant, you may want to salt it beforehand. This will draw some of the water out. I recommend you do this if using large, traditional, Italian eggplant. Here's how.
- Sweat the onions: Sweat baby, sweat! Cook the onions until translucent, then add garlic, chili, salt and pepper.
- Add vegetables that cook faster: Bell peppers and squash should only be added after the onion is soft so that they don't overcook.
- Add tomatoes: Plus a spoon of oil. Mix, and let it bubble for 10 more minutes.
- Add cooked eggplant and tamarind paste: Finally, return the eggplant to the pan and pour in the tamarind. Toss and taste. Add more salt or chili flakes if you'd like. The whole idea here is to constantly layer.
- Let it simmer: Medium heat, 10-15 more minutes while the tomatoes get softer and the whole thing mingles.
- Serve with: Crusty bread, rice, pasta, the possibilities are endless. Ideally, a glass of cold wine won't be far away!
Want to customize this easy ratatouille recipe? You can easily...
- Add some protein: You could fold in some cooked chicken or shrimp in the last few minutes of cooking time, just to warm through!
- Add more veggies: This is a dish that can handle all of your garden vegetables, just make sure to time properly. If you want to add mushrooms, do so with the onions so they can properly brown! Corn would also be delicious here. Add it with the squash.
- Change up the herbs: If you don't love basil, feel free to add parsley, chives or cilantro instead. Any soft herbs will do!
- Add cheese: You could top this with some fresh mozzarella and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Yum!
- Top it with an egg: If you want to reheat some ratatouille and eat it for breakfast, it would be delicious with a soft-boiled or fried egg right on top!
MORE VEGGIE RECIPESPrint
Ratatouille is a French summer vegetable stew made with the eggplant, squash, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs. My easy recipe has a secret ingredient that takes this dish to the next level!
- 2 Japanese eggplant, cubed
- 2 small Vidalia onions, diced
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 2 bell peppers, cubed (stem, pith and seeds removed)
- 2 zucchini or squash, cubed
- 3 ripe tomatoes, diced
- ½ tsp chili flakes, plus more if desired
- ¼ cup basil, loosely packed
- salt + pepper
- 2 tablespoons tamarind paste
- Combine tamarind paste with 1 tablespoon of very hot water. Mix. Set aside.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a large pan on medium heat and add eggplant. Do not salt. Sauté until golden, about 10-12 minutes. When done, remove and set aside.
- Add another tablespoon of oil, then sauté onions on a medium heat until translucent.
- Add garlic, chili flakes, and half of the basil. Add a generous pinch of salt.
- Add peppers + squash, cooking for 10 minutes until they start to brown. Add tomatoes, and another tablespoon of oil. Taste for salt and add pepper.
- Cook this mixture for 10 minutes, then add back eggplant and diluted tamarind paste. Toss and taste. Add more salt if need be, or more chili flakes if you want it to be spicier. Cook on medium for 10 more minutes.
- Top with fresh basil leaves, and serve warm (preferably over rice, with a nice crusty bread, and a glass of red!)
This lasts in the fridge for up to a week, and tastes very good on the second and third day!
- Prep Time: 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 45 minutes
- Category: Vegetarian Entrées
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: French
Keywords: ratatouille, french, vegan, vegetables, summer recipes, summer product, aubergine, eggplant, zucchini, vegan entrees