Cooking wasn’t always a passion for me. In fact, there was a time when cooking felt more like a chore that had to be done just to stay alive. In short, it was work—unenjoyable, uninspired, and mostly done begrudgingly. As I grew older, though, I came to realize that cooking was more than just a chore; it became an opportunity to create.
Although delicious new foods certainly played their part in this transformation, I can’t deny the role that Disney’s Ratatouille played in inspiring me. Something about the whimsical story of a young man guided by a virtuoso rat showed me that even the worst of cooks can eventually grow into top chefs. Best of all, it doesn’t take fancy cooking to please the palate.
After finishing the film, I set about mastering the recipe I’d seen before me. It took some time and a little research but after many attempts, I finally crafted the very same ratatouille recipe from the movie. To save you hours of repeated attempts, I’ve gone ahead and written my guide to Remy’s ratatouille. Check it out here!
What is Ratatouille?
At first glance, the ratatouille shown in the film looks like something fit for a king. It’s colorful, layered, and wrapped around a baking dish like some exotic pastry. Yet, ratatouille is anything but a royal delicacy. In fact, it’s a simple provincial French stew made from basic summer vegetables.
You may recall from the film that Colette—the top rôtisseur chef and love interest of the film—calls ratatouille a “peasant’s dish” and it’s exactly that!
Ratatouille was a dish crafted by poor provincial French peasantry as a way to transform simple vegetables into a hearty and delicious meal without meat. It may look like it takes a long time to make, but it’s actually quite simple.
So, what makes ratatouille so special? It may be a simple vegetable stew, but the unique combination of ingredients lends it a unique tanginess of tomato, peppers, summer squash, and eggplant. Add in a few herbs, some salt, and a touch of black pepper and you’ve got a mélange of savory flavors unlike anything else.
For the uninitiated, the rat in Ratatouille is not named ratatouille. His name is Remy and Remy is a master chef held back by his small, rodent body that brings shrieks of fear and disgust at first sight.
Remy guides a young cook named Linguini as he tries to make it into the competitive world of five-star French cooking. Long story short, they save his father’s restaurant by cooking ratatouille.
How Did Remy Make Ratatouille?
Remy’s ratatouille is actually not a traditional French ratatouille, nor is it truly Remy’s. When Disney and Pixar set about creating the film, they consulted with New York chef, Thomas Keller. Keller created a unique version of the classic French dish just for the movie. However, you can make his (or Remy’s) exact recipe.
Compared to the rustic original, Remy’s ratatouille takes more time and uses some pretty special techniques. You’ll need to make two separate sauces, including a tomato-pepper sauce and a topping vinaigrette, as well as evenly slice your vegetables into thin confit byaldi.
So, if you’re tired of just reading about Remy’s ratatouille, let’s dive in and start cooking.
Remy’s Ratatouille Recipe
Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 3 hours and 20 minutes
Tomato and Pepper Sauce
➔ 2 large-sized red bell peppers, halved, deveined, and deseeded
➔ 2 tbsp of olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
➔ 1 tsp of minced garlic
➔ ½ cup of diced yellow onion
➔ 12 oz of peeled, seeded, and diced tomatoes, with juices (tinned diced tomatoes will also work)
➔ 1 sprig of fresh thyme
➔ 1 sprig of fresh parsley
➔ 1 small bay leaf
➔ Salt to taste
➔ One 4 oz green zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch slices
➔ One 4 oz yellow zucchini, sliced into ¼ inch slices
➔ One 4 oz Japanese eggplant, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch slices
➔ 4 medium-sized Roma tomatoes, sliced into ¼ inch slices
➔ ½ tsp of minced garlic
➔ 2 tsp of olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
➔ ⅛ tsp of fresh thyme
➔ Salt and black pepper to taste
➔ 1 tbsp of olive oil (preferably extra virgin)
➔ 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar
➔ Fresh thyme
➔ Salt and black pepper to taste
Step 1) Begin preparing the tomato-pepper sauce by preheating your oven to 450° F.
Step 2) Place the pepper halves face down on a baking tray lined with aluminum foil and roast for 15 minutes or until the skin loosens from the peppers. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Step 3) Peel and finely dice the pepper halves.
Step 4) Heat olive oil in a medium-sized skillet and sauté the garlic and onions for 8 minutes or until soft and translucent. Be careful not to brown the garlic and onions.
Step 5) Add the tomatoes and tomato juice with the fresh herbs and let simmer over low heat until the tomatoes become soft and most of the juice has cooked away. This should take roughly 10 minutes but watch it carefully to prevent it from browning.
Step 6) Add the finely diced roasted pepper to the sauce and let simmer until soft.
Step 7) Season with salt to taste and strain out the herbs using a fork.
Step 8) Allow the oven to drop down to 275° F.
Step 9) Spread the sauce you just made across the bottom of an 8 inch baking dish or cassolette.
Step 10) Starting from the edge of the dish, tightly arrange the sliced fresh vegetables on top of the sauce. Your vegetables should overlap with about ¼ inch of each slice exposed to the eye. As you approach the center, overlap the vegetables in a tight spiral so that the vegetables create a mound in the center. Continue until the entire dish is full or you run out of vegetables.
Step 11) Combine the remaining garlic, thyme, and oil in a small bowl and season the mixture with salt and black pepper to taste. Spread the mixture over the vegetables and seal the dish with aluminum foil. Bake for roughly 2 hours before testing the vegetables with a paring knife. Leave the dish uncovered and bake for another 30 minutes to achieve a golden-brown top.
Step 12) To make the vinaigrette, whisk the oil, thyme, salt, pepper, and vinegar into an emulsion.
Step 13) To serve, slice the ratatouille into quarters and carefully lift it from the baking dish with a spatula. Fan the vegetables out by twisting the spatula a full 90° and finish it off with a drizzle of the vinaigrette.
How Do You Keep Ratatouille from Being Runny?
As your vegetables cook, they may release more liquid into the sauce that lines the pan. As long as you cook the ratatouille properly, most of this liquid should evaporate. However, if too much liquid remains in the dish after 3 hours of cooking, you can boil off some of the moisture.
Place the baking dish on top of your stove and cook away the runniness over a low flame. Do not use high heat as it can burn the bottom of your pan and leave a foul, acrid burnt taste in your vegetables. Additionally, coating your eggplant in salt before cooking will help draw out excess water.
Should I Peel Eggplant for Ratatouille?
Before cooking eggplant in a ratatouille, you should carefully remove their skins. Eggplants are rich in compounds called anthocyanins, which make them taste bitter and unpleasant. These compounds are most concentrated in the skins. As you cook the eggplant, the anthocyanins will condense into a harshly bitter flavor and the skins will toughen into leathery strips.
Avoid polluting the flavor of your ratatouille by peeling your eggplants ahead of time. You can also eliminate most of the anthocyanins by soaking your eggplant in warm salt water for at least 20 minutes. Since the eggplant before cooking and then layer it as normal.
How to Make Ratatouille with Meat
If you’re more of a carnivore than a vegetarian, you can add Italian flair to this provincial French dish by layering in thin, delicious slices of salty Italian dried meats. Use salami, spicy pepperoni, and even prosciutto to beef up your ratatouille.
Make the ratatouille following the same recipe shown above but as you layer the vegetables around the cassolette, mix in slices of meat between every second or third vegetable. Once baked, the flavors will meld beautifully together to create a hearty and filling one-dish meal.
What do the French Serve with Ratatouille?
If you were to eat a traditional ratatouille served up in a small French village, your host would most likely serve it with slices of crispy toasted bread. If you want to follow their lead, we recommend using a freshly baked baguette from your local grocer or bakery.
Alternatively, ratatouille is often served as a companion dish to complement roasted meats. Since you’re already using your oven, go ahead and roast a chicken to go with your ratatouille. If you prefer something simple, serve it with a side of mashed potatoes or over white rice.
What are the Different types of Ratatouilles?
Ratatouille is an easily adaptable dish and, beyond the variety shown in the film, has been transformed into many different types:
➔ Classic stewed ratatouille – The original ratatouille wasn’t baked—it was stewed! Rather than thinly slicing and aligning your vegetables, you can toss them roughly-chopped into a pot and slowly cook them down.
➔ Ratatouille pappardelle – After baking your ratatouille, mix in feta cheese and wide egg noodles to create a Mediterranean fusion pasta dish. Sprinkle some chopped fresh basil onto the noodles for added color and flavor.
➔ Chicken ratatouille – Put a special spin on classic stewed ratatouille by adding chopped chicken breast to the pot. As the vegetables soften and cook down into a sauce, they’ll coat the chicken, blending the flavors into a rich and savory medley of meat and summer veggies.
You can also mix things up by changing the vegetables in your ratatouille. Rather than using zucchini, you can substitute them for squash or even thin slices of pumpkin. Any summer gourd will work well in your ratatouille as long as it becomes soft after cooking.
Ratatouille may seem like a complicated French dish but it’s far more than meets the eye. Thanks to Disney’s Ratatouille, what was once a simple peasant’s dish has transformed into an international sensation known for its mélange of bright colors, fun spiral, and delicious tangy flavor. If you don’t take our word for it, try it out and let us know what you think!