The word, “ratatouille”, may conjure up images of the kids’ animated movie, but for me, it brings back delicious memories of French cuisine. We lived in Europe for nine years and got to visit France on numerous occasions. Each visit was an amazing adventure in eating. My favorite eats included the fresh fruit tarts, morning croissants, and of course, the ratatouille.
A ratatouille is a traditional French food that consists of onions, peppers, zucchini and eggplant that are all cooked together with oil and spices.
On one such visit to Paris, my friends and I found this local restaurant near the Notre Dame Cathedral on the island of ile Saint-Louis. I often use Rick Steves and his recommendations for local eateries, so we found this quaint little place for lunch. I had never experienced the taste of ratatouille before this outing, and I decided to try it out.
Oh. My. Goodness. The flavors lept off the plate and into my mouth and danced there for many long minutes. Wow! In fact, every piece of food we ate there was fabulous.
After returning home, I made it my goal to try to duplicate this amazing dish. Sadly, I’ve never been able to duplicate the flavors precisely–at least not yet. However, this version of crockpot ratatouille is one of the closest I’ve come so far, and I love how it feels my home with an amazing smell all afternoon.
I borrowed spice ideas from several different recipes and combined them here for your eating pleasure.
We enjoy this dish as a side to chicken or beef and even as the main course over rice or pasta.
If you change anything up in your own recipe and find an improved flavor, please share below so we can all benefit from your discovery!
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 1 large eggplant, halved and sliced
- 4 small zucchini, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 large bell peppers, de-seeded and sliced
- 2 large tomatoes, cut into ½ inch wedges
- 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste (Option: substitute tomatoes & paste for 1 (28 oz) can peeled tomatoes)
- 2 TBLSPN fresh Parsley, chopped
- 1 Bay Leaf
- ¼ cup extra virgin Olive Oil
- 3 TBLSPN Red Wine Vinegar
- Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese, for serving (optional)
- Prepare and measure out all ingredients. Keep ingredients separated in piles or bowls so that you can layer them in the next step. All dry spices can be measured into the same small bowl.
- Start layering the veggies/spices in the crock pot, starting in this order (see photo): Half the onion & eggplant; Half the zucchini, garlic & pepper; Half the tomatoes/tomato paste; Half the spices & parsley.
- Place the bay leaf on top of this first half.
- Layer again the remaining veggies & spices in the same way. (Your veggies will come all the way to the top and may even touch the lid of your crock pot. This is a GOOD thing. They will cook down over the course of the day.)
- Drizzle the olive oil and vinegar over the top.
- Cover and cook on Low 7 to 9 hours.
- Place in bowls and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese.