What Is Ratatouille?

Who didn't like "Ratatouille," the animated feature film produced by Pixar and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures? It tells the story of Remy, a rat living in Paris who wants to be a chef. Now if your child is like my inquisitive 11-year-old son, you may have also heard, “What is ratatouille?”

After a quick internet search we discovered that ratatouille is a French dish served as a meal (accompanied by rice, potatoes, pasta or French bread) or as a side dish. Tomatoes are the key ingredient, along with garlic, onions, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and a variety of herbs. All the ingredients are sautéed in olive oil. Upon locating this information, my son quickly exploded with his next question, “Can we make it soon?”

I scanned my favorite cookbooks for ratatouille ideas, added eggplant to my grocery shopping list, and on Saturday afternoon my son and I were busily chopping and sautéing our veggies. Soon into the process, Nathan took ownership of the ratatouille. Realizing it was a vegetarian entrée (and his nana is vegetarian), he suggested we invite his nana and papa to the evening tasting. Nathan asked that we serve “his” ratatouille over his favorite tri-colored pasta. For individual taste preferences, we set out bowls of grated Parmesan cheese, shredded Mozzarella cheese, sliced black olives, and parsley. We washed green grapes, toasted French bread, and poured milk to complete the ratatouille meal.

Although my 16-year old daughter said that the ratatouille looked like slop, all six of the diners agreed that it was a delicious meal, rating it “2 thumbs up”, and designating it as a keeper.

Below, Nathan proudly shares his ratatouille recipe. I hope your family adventure with ratatouille becomes as memorable as mine. Now…off to the movie!

Nathan's Two-Thumbs-Up Ratatouille
This veggie-packed dish makes six healthy and hearty servings.

  • 2 small onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, peeled and chopped into 1-inch cubes
  • 1.5 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil OR 2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh marjoram, OR 1/2 tsp dried marjoram
  • 2 summer squash, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 12 ounces dry pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • Optional ingredients: sliced black olives, fresh parsley, Parmesan cheese, Mozzarella cheese
  1. Sauté onion, garlic and bay leaf in olive oil for 5 minutes.
  2. Add eggplant, basil, rosemary, salt and marjoram.
  3. Cover and cook over medium heat.
  4. Stir occasionally until eggplant is soft, about 15-20 minutes.
  5. Add squash, sweet peppers and tomatoes.
  6. Simmer 10 minutes until tender.
  7. Remove the bay leaf carefully.
  8. Serve over hot, prepared pasta.
  9. Sprinkle with parsley, black olives, shredded Mozzarella cheese and/or grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Click here to see the nutrition information for this recipe, and be sure to visit SparkRecipes.com for more healthy and unique ratatouille recipes.
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Member Comments

Please tell Nathan that his Ratat. was marvelous! Thanks!

Liz Report
Sounds like a great way to use up the bounty from the summer garden when by September you don't want to look at another zucchini as long as you live. Report
thats a good movie Report
I love ratatouille; I have made it in the past but will have to try this recipe out...I have not made it in ages. Report
I have made this recipe several times. Even my carnivore Husband loves it! Report
Haven't tried it yet, but we also ended up searching the net for recipes and ingredients when we first saw the movie! Finding fresh ingredients all in season at the same time is the hard part... Report
Great article,so cute.
I love this dish, so does my kids, not so much my Dear Hubby (meat and more meat)
so i do not make it often any more the kids are grown and moved out. Hard to do for one person i think.
But You all should try this it is delish. Report
While grocery shopping for ingredients, my husband and I ran into a friend. We told her if she was not busy tomorrow, she could drop by for Ratatouille.
She replied, "oh I haven't seen it yet, but I'd like to"
We all had a good laugh as we explained that we weren't going to watch it, we were going to eat it. Report
Sounds delicious! What a cute article too. Report
I love this dish. My mom use to make it when we were little. In Italian we call it Caponatina. It great cold too, eating it as a relish. Report
It would be OK for me personally but I dont care for and am borderline allergic to garlic. Report
It would be OK for me personally but I dont care for and am borderline allergic to garlic. Report
I like that your son has taken ownership of cooking and recipe development - especially with vegetables. Way to go Nathan! Can't wait for the next one.

I was introduced to ratatouille in France during a summer heat wave. The mother would fix it in the morning when it was cool in the kitchen, let it chill then serve it at lunch. I do the same on hot summer days; brings back great memories! With a dish like this KISS works best (keep it simple and clean). Report
We've made a family tweaked version of baked ratatouille for years. We don't prefer eggplant, so we substitute spaghetti squash. We layer the ingredients in a 9X13 pan, seasoning each layer with garlic salt, parmesan cheese, italian herbs (or personal preference) and olive oil, if wanted. Make sure the tomatoes are on top, so they can get slightly crisped on the edges. It's a total WINNER of a meal! Report
I just roared with laughter. Not only did I share my recipe for Ratatouille on my blog just this morning, but I was sitting here at my desk this evening with a plateful when I logged on and saw your article staring me in the face. I plan to save your two thumbs up version for future reference. It sounds just as yummy as mine! :-)

Talk about great minds thinking alike! LOL Report


About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.
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