Classic Ratatouille

This classic ratatouille recipe from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I is a perfect dish for showcasing summer produce at its peak of freshness. Typically, European globe eggplants are used in this dish, but you could just as easily use Japanese eggplants (their long, thing shape makes them a bit easier to slice into long strips). When shopping for eggplant, look for smaller fruits that are firm and feel heavy for their size- avoid any eggplants that feel light or soft, as these tend to be spongy in texture and lacking in flavor. If you like, you can skip peeling the eggplant for a more rustic touch. I recommend using plum tomatoes in this recipe (Roma or San Marzanos if you can get them), as they’re easier to peel and slice and tend to have fewer seeds and more pulp.

This recipe makes four servings.


  • 1 pound eggplant
  • 1 pound zucchini
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4-6 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced yellow onions (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 green peppers (about 1 cup)
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pound tomatoes (peeled and then seeded and juiced)*
  • 3 tablespoons minced parsley

Note: To make tomatoes easier to peel, parboil them first. Working in batches, drop several tomatoes into a pot of  boiling water. Watch for their skins to start to wrinkle and split, about 45 to 60 seconds (larger or thicker skinned tomatoes may take longer), then scoop them out with a slotted spoon and transfer them to an ice water bath. Once tomatoes are cool enough to handle, peel the skins off, and they’re ready to use in your recipe.


Peel the eggplant and cut into lengthwise slices 3/8″ think, about 3″ long and 1″ wide. Scrub the zucchini, slice off the two ends and cut into slices about the same size as the eggplant. Place the vegetables in a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon salt. Let stand for 30 minutes. Drain and dry each slice in a towel.

One layer at a time, sauté the eggplant and then the zucchini in 4 tablespoons hot olive oil in a 10-12″ skillet for about a minute on each side to brown very lightly. Remove to a side dish.

In the same skillet, cook the onions and peppers (add an additional 2 tablespoon of olive oil if needed) for about 10 minutes, until tender but not browned. Stir in the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice tomato pulp into 3/8″ strips. Lay them over the onions and peppers. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the skillet and cook over low heat for 5 minutes or until tomatoes have begun to render their juice. Uncover, taste the tomatoes with the juices, raise heat and boil for several minutes until juice has almost entirely evaporated.

Place a third of the tomatoes mixture in the bottom of a 2 1/2 quart casserole (about 2 1/2″ deep). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon fresh, minced parsley over tomatoes. Arrange half of the eggplant and zucchini on top, then half the remaining tomatoes and parsley. Put in the rest of the eggplant and zucchini and finish with the remaining tomatoes and parsley.

Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Uncover, tip the casserole and baste with the rendered juices. Correct seasoning if necessary. Raise heat slightly and cook uncovered about 15 minutes more, basting several times, until juices have evaporated leaving a spoonful or two of flavored olive oil. Be careful of your heat; do not let the vegetables scorch in the bottom of the casserole. Let cool slightly and serve.