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Easy Winter Ratatouille

Easy Winter Ratatouille

A great vegetarian main dish or side for a meal when fresh tomatoes are not available. 

Course Main Course
Cuisine French
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Laura

Ingredients

  • 2-3 cups zucchini (or zucchini/yellow squash mixed), cut into chunks
  • 2 tablespoons flour, divided
  • 2 cups eggplant, peeled & cut into chunks
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, mashed or finely chopped
  • 1 cup yellow onions, chopped small
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into small chunks
  • 1 1/2 cups canned tomatoes with their juice Use good quality tomatoes. It matters.
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme Alternatively, 1 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
  • kosher or sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper

Instructions

  1. Coat the squash pieces in 1 tablespoon of flour by dumping the flour into a bowl with the squash and mixing them with your hands.  Using the second bowl, do the same with the eggplant pieces.  Add the eggplant to the squash and set aside.  
    Coating the zucchini and yellow squash in flour for Easy Winter Ratatouille
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet and add the mashed or chopped garlic and the chopped onions.  Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally for 3 – 5 minutes, until the onion is transparent. 

  3. Add the chopped peppers.  Cook at medium heat 4-6 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until the peppers have softened.  Remove the vegetables from the pan (I put them in the now-empty second bowl) and set aside.  
    Cooking peppers and onions for Easy Winter Ratatouille
  4. Raise the heat to medium-high and add the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil.  Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the squash and eggplant.  Cook them for approximately 5 minutes, stirring to prevent the flour from burning too much and to cook all sides of the cubes.  The flour may stick to the pan bottom, but over the next steps, you’ll be able to pull most or all of it off – and stir it back into the stew – with the wooden spoon.
    Cooking the zucchini, yellow squash, and eggplant for Easy Winter Ratatouille
  5. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic back into the pan.  Sprinkle the thyme and lightly salt and pepper the mixture.  Cover and cook under a medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  The tight cover is required so that the squash and eggplant “sweat” and the water recirculates back into the stir instead of evaporating off, which it would do if the cover is not tight.  
    Cooking the zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, garlic, onions, and bell pepper for Easy Winter Ratatouille
  6. Uncover and raise the heat to medium.  Add the canned tomatoes (gently opening them with the spoon), and their juice, bring the mixture to a simmer and cook it for 25-30 minutes at a low simmer.  Add salt and pepper.  The flavor of ratatouille deepens and improves if you let it sit (on the counter if you will serve it within a few hours or refrigerated if you will serve it the following day) for at least 3-4 hours. 
    Adding tomatoes to Easy Winter Ratatouille

Recipe Notes

Before starting the cooking, put all the ingredients next to the pan on the stove, ready to go in at the proper moment.  You remember the 10 Rules for Meal Preparation Success and mise en place, right?  

Use a non-stick pot or large pan. I use my enamel-covered cast iron. Do not use "plain" cast iron as acid from tomatoes reacts with cast iron.

A wooden spoon is great for scraping up the bits of flour that tend to stick on the pan at the early stages.