Ratatouille (Vegan and Gluten Free)
This is my own take on Ratatouille, the vegetable dish that became popular thanks to an animation movie. If you try to find an authentic recipe for this dish you will find out that everyone has his own idea of what authentic Ratatouille is. That is perfectly fine, because that is the beauty of cooking. You take some old traditional recipe and you make it your own. That is exactly what I did with that old classic. I made it my own.
How is my Ratatouille different
The major difference in my recipe is that I bake the dish instead of cooking it on the stove. I also roast and peel the pepper that use for the dish. In the original recipe there are onions and slices of whole tomatoes. I didn’t use onions for my version and my fresh tomatoes were turned into a sauce.
When I cook tomatoes or bell peppers, I always peel them, because I hate eating the peel of the cooked tomato. My daughter dislikes it too. Therefore, I have few extra steps to my recipe, but they are totally optional. You can blend the tomatoes to a sauce without peeling them and you can add the bell peppers raw.
Why Should You Make Ratatouille?
This dish has so many tasty vegetables in it. It is a good way to have a nutritious meal that is bursting with flavor. These summer vegetables go so well together. They are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and fiber.
Ratatouille is an excellent vegan and vegetarian dish. It doesn’t contain any animal products. It is also grain and gluten free. There is no flour or starch added to the sauce. This makes it low in carbohydrates. Therefore, it can be eaten from diabetics without causing rapid increase in blood glucose.
One of the main reasons I love this recipe is that it made my daughter eat eggplant. In the past she refused to even have a taste. The last time I made this dish she had three servings. She loves this dish so much. I often serve it topped with a fried egg and some crumbled feta. You can also have it with some delicious homemade bread.
Helpful tips about making Ratatouille
I used a mandolin slicer to cut the zucchini and eggplant thinly. That is totally optional. You can also slice your vegetables with a knife.
You can use a food processor or na immersion blender to make the sauce for the Ratatouille. If you prefer bigger chunks of tomato you can also chop the tomatoes and herbs with a knife.
Once I cut all the vegetables I add some salt and olive oil to them. Then I arrange them in in an alternating patterns on top of the sauce.
I cook the Ratatouille covered for the first 30 minutes and then uncovered for 30 more minutes. This method guarantees that all of the vegetables will cook evenly.
How to roast peppers
I love to have roasted peppers in the refrigerator. I use them in salads, in breakfast recipes, dips and even sauces. You can roast your peppers in advance and make this frittata much quicker.
I usually roast my peppers on a gas grill. The first step is to preheat an outdoor grill to 450F. Then I roast the peppers for about 15 minutes. I turn them every 3-5 minutes, so they don’t burn. Put the roasted peppers in a pot with a lid or a plastic bag for 5-10 minutes. That way they steam and the peel falls off easily.
You can also roast peppers in a regular or convection oven. Preheat the oven to 400F and place the peppers on a baking sheet. Rotate the peppers every 5-10 minutes until they are charred on each side. Then put them in pot with a lid or a zip lock bag to steam them.
One of the easiest ways to roast peppers is on a gas burner. Use heat resistant tongs to hold each pepper on top of the flame and rotate until the pepper is nicely charred.
If you roast your peppers in advance you can store them in an airtight container in the fridge for 4-5 days.
- 3 bell peppers roasted and peeled
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 large zucchini
- 1 lb tomatoes
- 2 medium sized garlic cloves peeled
- ¼ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 2 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 Tbsp salt divided (or use salt to taste)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil divided
- Start by roasting 3 bell peppers. For tips about roasting peppers read the blog post. Once they are roasted put them in a pot with a lid for 5-10 minutes. This step is necessary for easier peeling.
- Next we are going to peel the tomatoes (optional). Add a pot with water at the stove and bring it to a soft boil. Prepare a bowl with cold water and ice. Make a little cross looking cut to the skin of all six tomatoes and place them in the hot water for 10 seconds. Remove the tomatoes from the hot water and place them in the ice bath. After this procedure their skin will fall off easily.
- Peel the roasted bell peppers and the tomatoes.
- Place the tomatoes, garlic, basil and thyme and about 1 teaspoon of the salt into a blender (food processor or immersion blender works too). Blend until you have a sauce.
- Preheat the oven to 380F.
- Wash and cut the tail ends of the zucchini and the eggplant. Peel the eggplant. Use a mandoline to cut the zucchini and the eggplant to even rounds.
- Place the zucchini and eggplant rounds in a bowl and season them with about 2 teaspoons of salt and two tablespoons olive oil.
- Check your tomato sauce for seasoning and pour it to the bottom of 10 inch baking dish or oven safe pan.
- Arrange the sliced vegetables in alternating patterns. An example for the order is eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper. Then season the dish with the remaining salt and olive oil.
- Cover tightly with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 30 minute with the foil on and 30 more minutes without the foil.
- Serve warm topped with fresh basil. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.