Ratatouille – In The Kitchen With Mom
I have to say that I am enjoying the extra bit of time given by my mom cooking some dinners while I can work on the usual, the new and/or the collaborated. Spring has me "springing" but as I proofread I am also in the "oh my God this is not good enough" phase….forgive my freaking out!!! Fortunately mom is here to bring my sanity back with a bowl of warm soup, a piece of cake or her delicious ratatouille.
It’s not often you see or will see again a savory recipe on this site but when I asked mom what she wanted to make for a guest post, she immediately replied "Je pourrais faire ma ratatouille!" (I could make my ratatouille!). "Pourquoi pas une tarte ou un gateau plutot?" (why not a tart or cake instead?). She admitted being more of savory cook than a baker and made me blush by saying that she already uses my recipes for baking so no need for a redo. But after a little nudging from you guys, we are also going to make a tart before they leave and we will do it completely together.
Indeed, for the ratatouille, I pretty much shot the veggies in their raw and cooked form while she did everything else. I went to teach a class and when I came back the house was foggy with the wonderful smells of her ratatouille. A whiff of it is enough to let my mind wander home. There is no particular or nostalgic moment associated with it. She made it everyweek. I grew up on it like others do on collard greens or lasagna. It’s us. It’s simple. It’s home. I keep telling her that hers is special. It’s mom’s. It’s good.
I wanted her to write about it with her own words but she left me the duty instead (I guess too busy playing cards with B. and my dad!). Mom will be the first one to tell you that every cook in Provence (where the dish is said to have originated) and in the world has a different recipe for it and a different method of cooking. She laughs out loud when she hears other cooks complain "did you see how he makes his ratatouille? Heresy!" She says the only heresy would be to cook something that you end up not eating.
She was told by reference cookbooks back in the day that "the" ratatouille recipe was made with each vegetable cooked separately then all added together then braised. Mom does what most homecook does: cooks all the vegetable in layers in one pan. As I was writing quantities down for this post she came over my shoulder and said "the only rule I follow from those old stuffy book is to add the vegetables in the pan by alphabetical order. That’s important". Ah well, yes mom, but that does not work from French to English! The spices also can be different from household to household. Ours traditionally include thyme, parsley, oregano, a pinch of lavender and basil and some "Quatre Epices". I ran out of the first and last one for the photo shoot but they did make it to the finished dish.
Mom also added "tell you readers that I have no diploma in ratatouille making. This is simply the one that has been handed down from generation to generation in the family. I would not want to sound presumptuous about such a simple dish". How sweet can she be?!! I should warn you that we like ours on the soft and stewy side and it’s not really the best thing for a beauty shot but I hope the pictures did mom’s version justice.
Here is what I love about ratatouille, hers, mine and all the other ones in between: it can be a side dish, a bruschetta topping, a main meal with a fried egg on top (known as piperade), or a vegetarian meal with a sprinkle of parmesan or Gruyere. It makes a lot and that’s perfect for a gathering of friends. So without further ado…
1 medium onion (peeled and diced)
1 eggplant (peeled every other strip and diced)
3-4 zucchini (peeled every other strip and diced)
1 red bell pepper (we used orange because no red ones at the farmers market)
1 green bell pepper
1 can good quality tomatoes (we used one 14oz can of fire roasted tomatoes)
5 garlic cloves (we like ours unpeeled and whole but some don’t…do as you prefer)
Herbes de Provence
Or a mix of thyme, parsley, oregano, lavender, all spice and a pinch of basil
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil
In a large saute pan set over medium (and I mean the largest you have that you can put a lid on), sautee the onion in a bit of olive oil until translucid. Add the diced eggplant and sautee until it becomes golden in color. Add a dash more olive oil and add the zucchini, then the peppers, tomaotoes and canned tomatoes. Add the whole unpeeled garlic cloves, the spices, salt and pepper. Do not stir. Cover with a lid and let stew for aout 15 minutes. At this point the vegetables will have reduced a bit in volume from cooking and you will have room to stir and mix the herbs with the rest of the ingredients in the pan. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for at least 30 to 40 minutes. Uncover and let simmer 20 to 30 minutes on low until most of the cooking liquid has evaporated.
Rosa's Yummy Yums March 24, 2009 um 6:00 am
That’s a wonderful dish! Your mom’s ratatouille looks delicious!
Mermaid Sews March 24, 2009 um 6:14 am
I love Ratatouille – and generally just make it up as I go along – your mom’s looks delicious.
K and S March 24, 2009 um 6:17 am
I can’t wait to try this, it looks and sounds so delicious!
Elyse March 24, 2009 um 6:32 am
I’m more than happy to see a savory recipe for ratatouille! It is one of my favorite savory dishes, and your mom’s ratatouille looks especially delicious. I can’t wait to try this recipe!
Nina Timm March 24, 2009 um 6:38 am
How could your mother be any different to you…talented, kind, warm, gifted…..the best!!! Great post and fabulous ratatouille.
Finla March 24, 2009 um 7:39 am
Ilove ratatoulie and this looks so yumm.
I can see your mom is there as there is a non dessert dish now.
Purple Flowers March 24, 2009 um 7:46 am
This recipe looks and sounds delicious! Please thank you Mom.
Tatlı Tuzlu Anılarım March 24, 2009 um 8:21 am
Ooooo, those look yummy ! 🙂
anadelicias March 24, 2009 um 8:39 am
Your´s mom ratatouille will became in my ratatouille… It´s simply delicious!!!
• friX • March 24, 2009 um 8:42 am
mmm, I love ratatouille !
Never knew there’s supposed to be lavender in it as well. We don’t do that, here in Belgium. I guess I should try it out !
Thanks a lot 🙂
Y March 24, 2009 um 9:07 am
Bonjour to Helen’s mom! 🙂 How nice of her to share this recipe. I love ratatouille! Too bad she didn’t want to lend her voice to this post as well.. not that I don’t enjoy reading yours, Helen!
Graphic Foodie March 24, 2009 um 9:12 am
I’m going to learn all of the vegetable names in French – love the idea of adding them alphabetically!
There is something so unbeatable and comforting about a mothers recipe…
onesilentwinter March 24, 2009 um 9:29 am
oh helen ratatouille is my all time comfort food i used to make it every sunday with the vegetables i purchased at the market- a whole big creuset of it then i would have it all week! i will surely try your mom’s recipe!
Marija March 24, 2009 um 9:41 am
Thank you! Thank you!
Your mom is so sweet. Can’t wait for the tart recipe!
Cannelle Et Vanille March 24, 2009 um 10:45 am
oh i am so jealous right now. i wish i could have some. one of my favorite sumer dishes. we have our version in the basque country called "pisto". delicious.
love the colorful photos and the carbonell olive oil. the same way i always use (from southern spain).
Dominique March 24, 2009 um 10:50 am
Ah, la ratatouille! signe que les beaux jours ne sont pas loin et que l’on va pouvoir à nouveau cuisiner ces légumes du soleil! et avec ces photos, on ne peut que saliver d’avance…
Culinary Wannabe March 24, 2009 um 11:19 am
You mom sounds like a lovely lady! I can only imagine how great it was to walk back into your house with all these amazing smells going on.
LizNoVeggieGirl March 24, 2009 um 11:54 am
HOORAY!!! Love your mom’s recipes 🙂
Lori March 24, 2009 um 12:14 pm
Your Mom sounds so lovely, she is so humble. I love the part about adding the vegetables in alphabetical order, which of course does not translate.
Bravo to your Mom! Blessed are you to have such a lovely Mom. I just know you are grateful for her.
Anonymous March 24, 2009 um 12:15 pm
Please thank your Mom for this recipe… I love how all the vegetables look in your little pots… I can almost smell the herbs from your photos…
Helene March 24, 2009 um 12:24 pm
FriX: there are myriads of ratatouille recipes out there and people always come up with their preferred version. Some never use basil, some never use lavender,etc… We always use Herbes de Provence which also contain marjoram and lavender but there is no obligation too.
Thank you everyone!
Christy March 24, 2009 um 12:44 pm
I can’t wait to try this!! I’ll get J to make it for me this weekend!! Yay!!!
Char March 24, 2009 um 12:54 pm
this is much how we cook here in the south too – a pinch of this and that. cooking is so much love and it shows through every word and photograph. excellent job.
Bonbon Oiseau March 24, 2009 um 12:56 pm
such a sweet post helen! what a great collaboration between mom and daughter…must be so nice to have her and her ratatouille looks wonderful—i’m going to try mama tartelette’s recipe–with lavender huh—mmmm…will let you know how it comes out! Heresy!
Anonymous March 24, 2009 um 1:44 pm
I’ve never had ratatouille but I’ve wanted to try it. When I can get some fresh veggies from my parents' garden I’m going to try this out. It looks fantastic!
Anonymous March 24, 2009 um 1:48 pm
Yummy ratatouille….I must try this recipe!
MyKitchenInHalfCups March 24, 2009 um 1:58 pm
The words of wisdom: the only heresy would be to cook something that you end up not eating.
Your mom is beautiful! and so is the ratatouille!
indosungod March 24, 2009 um 2:06 pm
Thanks to mom. Looks lovely. I am going to make it tasting like an Indian dish I am sure when I cook it. But will remember mom’s words and that should perk me right up.
Hayley March 24, 2009 um 2:07 pm
I love ratatouille. My Dad used to make it all the time, and I now wonder why he stopped? Your mom’s looks amazing, I’ll be trying it this weekend for sure. Thanks for sharing, and thanks to your mom!
Joyce March 24, 2009 um 2:13 pm
Helen, I see now where you got your talent from!! I will for sure give this a try! You have always steered me in the right direction.
Thank your mom for sharing! Enjoy my friend, enjoy! xoxo
Cindy March 24, 2009 um 2:41 pm
you are so lucky to have this special time with your mom. thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe. we love ratatouille and enjoy it with everything from an omelet to a chicken sandwich.
Patricia Scarpin March 24, 2009 um 2:50 pm
Helen, you and your mom will be appalled at this, but I have never made ratatouille… Shame on me!
This looks so delicious and perfect for a vegetable lover like me.
Please, tell her I can see now that the talent runs in the family! 😀
Susan @ SGCC March 24, 2009 um 2:59 pm
Wow! I believe that this is the first non-dessert dish I’ve ever seen here! I love it! My mom made ratatouille a lot when I was growing up. I’d forgotten how good it is!
baked in alaska March 24, 2009 um 3:25 pm
This looks so good. It has been raining here and a big dish would be just right!
Cookie baker Lynn March 24, 2009 um 3:50 pm
Your mom sounds like a total sweetheart and her ratatouille sounds like homemade perfection.
Anonymous March 24, 2009 um 4:09 pm
Oh yum! Thank you and your mom for this delicious recipe!
Anita (Married… with dinner) March 24, 2009 um 4:19 pm
confession time: J’ai un horreur d’aubergine. But this still looks tempting and delicious to me. 🙂
Deeba PAB March 24, 2009 um 4:48 pm
YAY for your Mom…we'll give her a diploma. Great to see savoury here, one that's come down generations, one that must taste as good as it looks…& in precious little pots!
Engineer Baker March 24, 2009 um 5:37 pm
What a fantastic contribution by your mom! I love it – the history, the colors, the versatility, everything.
Phoo-D March 24, 2009 um 6:47 pm
Please thank your mother for sharing this recipe! I am more of a savory cook myself and can’t wait to give this a try. The lavender sounds intriguing!
Snooky doodle March 24, 2009 um 7:32 pm
glamah16 March 24, 2009 um 7:41 pm
Nice to see a savory recipe and how you interact with your mother in the kitchen. Precious moments.
Anonymous March 24, 2009 um 8:08 pm
I love ratatouille and have always made it the way you describe in a pan on the stove. However, my new love of roasting vegetables inspired me to try it in the oven–and it was not only delicious, it was nearly labor-free.
Philo aux fourneaux – Blog culinaire March 24, 2009 um 9:33 pm
Je ne pensais vraiment pas écrire ça un jour sur ton blog mais pour le coup je passe mon tour. Autour j’aime tous les légumes individuellement mais en ratatouille à cause du poivron je ne peux vraiment pas.
Quoiqu’il en soit, une simple ratatouille devient une belle nature morte avec tes sublimes photos
carolina @ patagonia gifts March 24, 2009 um 9:56 pm
I’m a huge fan of vegetables and this ratatouille looks so delicious! Thanks to your mom for this fabulous recipe!
cindy* March 24, 2009 um 10:17 pm
delicious helen and mama tartlette! my mother (who is not even close to being french, she is korean) does a baked ratatouille type dish with cheese on top and it is pure comfort.
Mallory Elise March 24, 2009 um 10:25 pm
yay! real ratatouille! ca me manque 🙁
Anonymous March 24, 2009 um 10:27 pm
Love the idea of ratatouille! I bought some herbs de Provence I was going to make ratatouille with. I’ve never heard of using lavender in this dish but it sounds great!
Suzana March 24, 2009 um 10:51 pm
Bravo! Beautifully done and oh so perfect – I *just* love ratatouille.
Wishing you a wonderful time with your parents. 🙂
Helene March 24, 2009 um 11:48 pm
Hillary: Herbes de Provence purchased in the US contain lavender whereas in France it is far less common (if not at all in the mix).
Laura March 25, 2009 um 12:21 am
Since I am Italian I often use leftover ratatouille as a pasta sauce. YUM!
breadchick March 25, 2009 um 12:58 am
I can still smell the ratatouille you made for Lis and I when we were all together in Cleveland. Every time I look at the fridge and see your recipe, I smile.
Now, I KNOW where you learned to make such a wonderful dish. I’m so glad you and your folks are having such a good time.
Cynthia March 25, 2009 um 1:24 am
I am yet to make it.
Anonymous March 25, 2009 um 1:31 am
Hello to your mom, Helen! I’ve been experimenting with the Greek version of ratatouille and just may sneak over to the French side of things on my next try – especially with a family recipe like this. Fabulous. I’m lusting after the sparkly sheen on your Le Cruset pots — I completely thrash my cookware. 😉
Olga March 25, 2009 um 1:37 am
haha: at first I thought I had the wrong blog 🙂 I’m not used to seeing savory dishes here!
My parents make this dish quite often too, and it’s one of my favorites!
It’s also good on top of a baked potato or grits.
Arlette March 25, 2009 um 2:22 am
Very yummy plate Helene, Thank you and your mom, for sharing.
we have a similar dish in Lebanon with all the above ingredients plus lamb shanks or shoulder meat added, my mom simmer it on low, until the meat falls apart. It’s very yummy, and I bet yours is the same….Healthier version. I have to try it soon.
La Cuisine d'Helene March 25, 2009 um 2:49 am
What a great time you had together. This is a beautiful ratatouille.
Anonymous March 25, 2009 um 3:24 am
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Anonymous March 25, 2009 um 3:25 am
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jb March 25, 2009 um 5:55 am
Ooh how I love ratatouille. Your mom’s recipe sounds amazing!
Kitchen M March 25, 2009 um 6:15 am
I love how you present it. It’s so cute! It’s not like dessert where the food itself is already decorative. That’s the challenge of savory food photography. Great job!
By the way, your mom is funny. The story made it even more interesting!
Anonymous March 25, 2009 um 8:04 am
What a fabulous dish and so truly perfect! Your mom’s looks wonderful and it really is such a versatile, healthy and comforting dish.
ChichaJo March 25, 2009 um 11:10 am
These are the best kinds of dishes…made with love and handed down through the generations! 🙂 I think it does make for a beautiful photo 🙂
Anonymous March 25, 2009 um 11:34 am
It’s great how you labeled your photo of the herbs! This seems like a very healthy recipe, maybe with a simple grilled chicken breast it would be a good spring meal (and not the typical chicken-over-salad combination).
BTW, maybe it’s just me but your first photo is showing that it’s "unavailable on Flickr"? The others are coming through fine though.
Helene March 25, 2009 um 11:47 am
KT: I just checked and it’s coming up fine on IE. Not sure what the problem could be.
stlouishorticulturalsociety March 25, 2009 um 11:51 am
How much of the spices do you use? This sounds delightful!
Anonymous March 25, 2009 um 12:59 pm
J’adore ça la ratatouille !!!!
Tes photos sont superbes, je veux bien des cours 😉
cindy March 25, 2009 um 1:04 pm
J’adore ça la ratatouille !!!!
Tes photos sont superbes, je veux bien des cours 😉
Anonymous March 25, 2009 um 1:15 pm
I wish I could like ratatouille, but every version I’ve ever had was watery, one-dimensional, and mushy. Maybe it’s time to try it again…
Anonymous March 25, 2009 um 3:55 pm
hug your mom for me…this is such a lovely looking dish and she sounds so darling!
Maria March 25, 2009 um 3:58 pm
Glad you are having fun together. I am loving this recipe!
ღ♥ღ Nesrin Designs ღ♥ღ March 25, 2009 um 5:47 pm
your blog sooooooooooo cute
i like it really
The Duo Dishes March 25, 2009 um 7:14 pm
Jen Yu March 25, 2009 um 9:42 pm
Hurray for Mom!! I think the recipe sounds awesome and I’m so happy she posted this. Thank you 🙂 Can’t wait for the tarts next.
Anonymous March 25, 2009 um 10:01 pm
How lovely to have your mum’s recipe up on your site, it looks very tasty.
Baking Monster March 25, 2009 um 11:16 pm
That looks soo good. Everything you make looks good! I love your site so much, it’s really great!
Anonymous March 26, 2009 um 2:04 am
Please thank your mother for sharing this recipe. I used to try and make one, as a new vegetarian, thirty years ago. It wasn’t too terribly good. Now I can make an authentic ratatouille.
Very much looking forward to your tart baking venture. Your family sounds wonderful.
Poorni Pillai March 26, 2009 um 2:34 am
Looks great! So many veggies and herbs. Love it.
(But the first photograph says not available in flickr, and I use firefox)
Helene March 26, 2009 um 3:10 am
Angry Brit: I am afraid this one might disappoint you yet again. It is definetely on the mushy side although the veggies are cut big enough to retain their shape. Let’s hope not!!
Miakoda: I uploaded the code fo the picture. Let’s hope it works!!
Anonymous March 26, 2009 um 3:39 am
I have never tried ratatouille but I think everyone started talking about it after the movie came out. I’d love to try it and this looks like the perfect recipe for me to try out during the upcoming wintery months – comforting, warm and above all, easy! 🙂
Renae March 26, 2009 um 3:49 am
I so love ratatouille….your Mom’s recipe looks great, will have to try!
alice March 26, 2009 um 5:04 am
thank you for sharing. can’t wait to try the recipe.
Anonymous March 26, 2009 um 7:37 am
Your mom seems really fun ! I love ratatouille and I definitely want to try hers which looks delicious ! PS : Je suis française, je vais pouvoir ajouter tous les ingrédients par ordre alphabétique :o) Merci à ta maman !
Bento Pet March 26, 2009 um 10:35 am
Your mum’s recipe is just awesome! I tried it today and it was delicious! Thank you for sharing this!
Anonymous March 26, 2009 um 3:08 pm
What a beautiful recipes. I cannot wait for the bounty of my garden, fresh eggplant, zucchini, onion…..
Heaven, delivered on earth. Thanks to mom!
sunita March 26, 2009 um 9:14 pm
Thanbks to your mum, dear Helen…recipes passed down through generations are always special, so thanks again for sharing.
TigerlilyCourt March 26, 2009 um 11:22 pm
OOO yummy..I think I need to make this over the weekend 🙂
Audrey March 27, 2009 um 12:40 am
I love ratatouille, especially when it’s soft and stewy. Please tell your maman that I think this looks wonderful. Ail, aubergine, courgette, poivre, tomate, n’est-ce pas? … thinking about adding the vegetables in alphabetical order (in French!) will make me happy!
Anonymous March 27, 2009 um 12:51 am
What a lovely ratatouille!
Anonymous March 27, 2009 um 9:09 am
Wow, I love your shiny little pots. They’re really beautiful and highlights the ratatouille perfectly. Will try this sometimes, if I can find the herbs needed here in Indonesia. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Have a great time with your parents.
Anonymous March 27, 2009 um 6:01 pm
My mother uses to add some "fat of duck" which gives the ratatouille an incredible taste !
Sunshinemom March 28, 2009 um 11:01 am
How nice to a savory dish here! Your mum’s ratatouille looks delicious:)
[email protected] March 29, 2009 um 7:15 pm
I love anything with eggplant. I love it more when my mom cooks it. I’ve started having my mom cook with me and I call it Retro Rose dishes. She’s pure comfort food. Want to enjoy every bit of her cooking. It must have tasted extra good coming from your mom.
Cakespy March 30, 2009 um 8:03 pm
YES! Finally! I can’t wait to try it. I love all sorts of vegetables, and have loved discovering ratatouille as a dish to eat–but had honestly never considered making it! And now, the perfect recipe!
Jenny Tan March 31, 2009 um 7:07 am
Please thank your mom ( and thank YOU too)for sharing your family recipe! My list of food to cook/bake is growing way too fast!! 😉 But, without a doubt, I WILL try this soon. Thanks again.
Giff April 1, 2009 um 4:29 am
I love making this dish, and will definitely have to try your mother’s version. The photos came out great. That’s what comfort food like this is meant to look like!
MJ April 2, 2009 um 11:32 am
Tartelette, funny how I was thinking of Ratatouille, as I just came from market with some egpplant…. I’ve never used lavender in mine, and tonight I’ll try it! Your mom has the best attitude toward cooking!
emiglia April 4, 2009 um 6:45 pm
I love the tip about adding all the vegetables in alphabetical order! I speak French, and I’ll definitely be using that as a way to remember from now on.
becca April 6, 2009 um 1:20 pm
Thank you so much for the recipe! I gave this a try for a potluck yesterday and it was a hit 🙂
Lee April 6, 2009 um 10:44 pm
I have never enjoyed ratatouille in past cooking attempts, but after reading this recipe, I thought I would give it another try with all the tips your mother left.
I would probably say that this is one of the best things I’ve made and eaten in a very long time.
Thank you so much for sharing this and your memories of it with us!
Jules May 3, 2009 um 6:27 pm
I made this today, it was very nice, eventhough i felt i should have put a lot more herbes de provence in 🙂
Thanks for the recipe!
fresh365 September 1, 2009 um 1:12 pm
Great recipe- I made it a few weeks back and evryone loved it!
Megan December 7, 2011 um 11:41 pm
How much does this recipe make? I would like to cook for about 12 people, and need to know if I should double it?
Helene December 8, 2011 um 6:07 am
Megan: I can't tell in measurements how much it makes because it depends on the actual size of your veggies and on how much you let them cook down (everyone does it a bit differently) but I'd say that one average, it would easily be enough for 6 as a side dish.
Anonymous June 13, 2013 um 3:05 pm
this recipe is divine,never fails and is hearty and full of flavor. I replaced the lavender with marjoram because we don´t cook with lavender in Colombia. The smells from my kitchen are to die for. Thanks for this recipe!
Yvonne July 29, 2014 um 7:39 pm
This looks perfect for the season! I am going camping this weekend, and I thought it would be perfect to bring along! But, I wondered if you think this recipe would freeze well (that's the easiest for transporting!).