Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Ratatouille Wanna-Be

I recently spotted what I considered to be the ultimate ratatouille blog post on the blog of talented cook and photographer Bea of La Tartine Gourmande. It inspired me to try my hand at making ratatouille, even though, like Bea, I never liked it when my mother made it either.

When it came time to survey my garden for ingredients, I found I couldn't even consider buying eggplant, since I had such a surplus of squash that needed to be used. Besides, eggplant never graced the table during my childhood, so it doesn't seem to me to be an essential component of the dish. I didn't have shallots so I used red onion. When it came time for fresh herbs, Bea had used fresh tarragon, something I don't have in my garden. I decided to substitute basil, and I was starting to wonder if my vegetable stew was moving to Italy, but I was still convinced that the flavor would be something Bea would approve of.

This is what I came up, perhaps not a classic French ratatouille, but still a delightful combination of summery vegetables with a fresh blend of flavors. (Full recipe at the end.)

Chop Zucchini and yellow squash in medium sized pieces.

Chop red onion and garlic in very small pieces.
Also chop one red and one yellow pepper into medium sized pieces.

Chop 3 red tomatoes and 3 yellow tomatoes into medium pieces. You need about
4 cups of tomatoes. (Use all red if you don't have yellow tomatoes.)

Saute squash 5 minutes and remove from pan.

Then saute peppers, onions and garlic. Add tomatoes and cook 5 minutes more.

Add zucchini and yellow squash back into pan and simmer with other herbs, salt, pepper, and a bit of sugar and olive oil for one hour. Add fresh basil and sea salt the last ten minutes of cooking time. Serve hot or room temperature.

Ratatouille Wanna-Be
(6 servings, adapted from a recipe by Bea
of La Tartine Gourmande)

2 zucchini, chopped medium
2 yellow summer squash, chopped medium
1/2 red onion, chopped small
6 large cloves garlic, chopped small
6 red or yellow tomatoes, chopped medium
(I used half red and half
yellow, which was pretty)
1 yellow pepper, chopped medium
1 red pepper, chopped medium
3 T chopped fresh parsley
3 T chopped fresh savory
(you could use any fresh herbs that appeal to you)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 T olive oil, plus more for sauteeing as needed
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (or less)
sea salt to finish

Heat small amount of olive oil in large, heavy pan, add zucchini and yellow squash and saute 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Add a bit more olive oil, then add peppers, onions, and garlic and saute 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes to pan, gently combine vegetables, and saute 5 minutes more.

Add zucchini and yellow squash back into pan with parsley, savory, sugar, olive oil, dried oregano, and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to low and cook uncovered one hour.

After an hour, add chopped fresh basil, season with sea salt and cook 5-10 minutes more. Serve hot or room temperature.

South Beach Suggestions:
This is a perfect side dish for any phase of the South Beach Diet. I think this would taste fantastic with Pan Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms, Onions and Rosemary or Janet's Mustard Chicken. For phase two or three, add something like Brown Rice with Cashews and Herbs.
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More to Chew On:


  1. Wow, that looks fantastic! I couldn't be bothered to worry about moving to Italy or not. Terrific photos. Wonderful adaptation and great title!!

  2. Really nice Kalyn! I like the way you decided not to buy eggplants because of all the squash you had. My mum would have done exactly the same thing. We always used the garden vegetables first! I know you have enjoyed your dish very much!

  3. Yeah, I've made several rataouille wanna-be dishes but I want to learn to make the real thing. Like most things good, it takes time but it is SO worth it. My late French m-i-l made one that was REALLY good.

  4. Kalyn, your photos are getting so much better by the minute, that camera has brought out a lot of you!

  5. great pics, Kalyn. It is very noble of you to make it without the aubergines, but I have to admit they are my favourite part of ratatouille and I would feel short-changed without them. As long as I gave your rendition another name I would be fine.

    In my family, my mum was not a keen cook (but we did grow most of our veggies). So it was me who learnt to make the ratatouille first and introduce it to the family. I remember first making it for them as a teenager.

  6. Tanna, thanks, and congrats on getting back to your kitchen.

    Bea, I am so glad you don't mind the lack of eggplants, and thanks again for a great recipe.

    Nerissa, Check the link to Bea's recipe which I think is pretty authentic.

    Ilva, Thanks!! I am having so much fun with the camera.

    Sam, thanks. I'm sure I'll try it again with eggplant, and I bet the eggplant would be all carmelized and yummy after cooking for an hour. (Funny thing, my mom also wasn't that hot on cooking. Maybe it was those ten kids though, some of whom were incredibly picky eaters.)

  7. Great photos Kalyn and great step by step instructions!
    When tomatoes and zucchini grew with wild abandon in my Sac Valley garden, I made iterations of this dish all summer long. Aaaah, the memories!

  8. Yum, looks wonderful. I think this kind of dish is wonderfully flexible. And the pictures are fabulous.

  9. Kalyn, that looks really wonderful! I must say though that my favourite part is the aubergine :)

    Lovely photos!

  10. Your ratatouille looks just delicious.
    I'm taking my kids to see the movie tomorrow - can't wait!

  11. I'm really excited to try this recipe. I noticed it is listed under phase 1 of SBD but contains sugar. Would it be appropriate to use sugar substitute instead?

  12. Yes, you could use Splenda, but I wouldn't worry too much about 1 tsp. of sugar in 6 servings; it's only a trace amount.

  13. YUM! Found this when I was googling zucchini recipes since I have an overflow from my garden right now. This looks like a dish our entire family would love.

  14. Hope you enjoy it! My garden is starting to produce squash but I am still waiting for tomatoes.


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