When people think of French cuisine, cheese is usually one of the first foods to come to mind. But France is also known for their use of fresh ingredients, and many of their dishes are naturally dairy-free and even plant-based. Take ratatouille, for instance. It’s basically a mélange of vegetables cooked into a ragout-style meal with a splash of olive oil and a few dashes of seasoning. This is often a summer or early fall dish, when zucchini and eggplant are most abundant. But this rustic ratatouille incorporates some cool weather vegetables, for a comforting year round dish.
This Rustic Ratatouille transforms Fresh Produce into Healthy Comfort Food
This recipe was shared with us by Dole, in honor of Disney’s movie Ratatouille. Last year, they did a revival, cooking up many French-inspired dishes. This was one of our favorites.
Ratatouille is a stewed vegetable dish that originated in Nice, France, a Mediterranean coastal city that’s known for boisterous daily produce markets. It’s typically made with a late summer mix of tomato, garlic, onion, zucchini, eggplant, and bell peppers. But this recipe also incorporates three mineral-rich, cool weather cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, and arugula.
Special Diet Notes: Rustic Ratatouille
By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, egg-free, optionally gluten-free, optionally grain-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, vegan, vegetarian, and paleo-friendly (for most).
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium bell peppers (any color), cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1½ medium red onions, chopped
- 1 medium eggplant, optionally peeled, and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 medium zucchini, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 3 cups small cauliflower florets
- 2 cups small broccoli florets
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme plus additional sprigs for garnish
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, juice reserved and tomatoes quartered
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice (about 1½ to 2 lemons)
- 1 cup baby arugula
- 5 cups cooked whole wheat pearl couscous, for serving (optional)
- Heat the oil in a large enamel-coated Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers and onion and sauté for 7 minutes, or until tender, stirring occasionally.
- Add the eggplant, zucchini, cauliflower, and broccoli and cook for 10 minutes, or until starting to brown, stirring occasionally.
- Add the garlic, thyme, salt, and crushed red pepper and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes with their juice and lemon juice. Heat the mixture to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are very tender.
- Stir the arugula into the ratatouille, and remove the pot from the heat.
- Serve over couscous, if desired. Reserve the leftovers for making ratatouille omelets. The ratatouille will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.