This Baked Ratatouille is packed with fresh zucchini, summer squash, eggplant, and tomatoes with plenty of herbs and a layer of gooey mozzarella for the most delicious meal or side dish. I love to serve it with Basil Parmesan Polenta or Mashed Cauliflower.
Although ratatouille has its origins as a French baked vegetable dish that first appeared around 1877, you'll find variations of the dish created by nearly every culture around the globe. After all, what's not to like about all your favorite vegetables, baked together and seasoned with delicious spices? As if that wasn't enough, I also like to add cheese to mine — even more reason to love this simple vegetarian dish.
For this version, I chose eggplant, red onion, zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes, but really you can use just about any vegetables that you love. Normally, I would serve this with creamy polenta or mashed potatoes on the side. It truly is one of our favorite comfort food meals and we especially love to make it when it's cold outside — one bite into this hearty, hot, delicious dish and you'll be making it every week!
Ideas for Customizing Baked Ratatouille
I really think that there is nearly an endless amount of ideas for customizing this dish. Some of the ways I've customized it myself though include:
- Skipping the cheese and making it dairy-free...it'll be just as delicious.
- Substituting thinly sliced butternut squash for the summer squash.
- Using cherry tomatoes (or any tomato, really) instead of roma tomatoes.
- Using balsamic instead of red wine vinegar.
- Using white onion instead of red (or try shallots, also yum!).
- Doubling this dish and then "cutting" it with cooked pasta. Great for leftovers!
- Use an Italian spice blend if you don't have the other spices on hand.
- Try other spice blends on this dish — Mediterranean, Indian, and Mexican are some that come to mind immediately.
- Add in sweet bell peppers — any colors, any varieties.
- Toss in some cut up asparagus or even green beans.
- Use spicy diced tomatoes (like the kind you'd put in chili) instead of crushed.
- Cover the entire dish in pre-packaged Italian stuffing mix, a couple tablespoons of melted butter and broil at the end for 10-15 minutes for a nice, crispy topping.
How Do You Layer Veggies in a Ratatouille?
You can certainly just put all your veggies together in a dish or pan and cook them through and they'll taste delicious, but if you want a more professional-looking ratatouille, you'll have to take a little more time to get the slices lined up in pretty little rows. What I would do is slice the vegetables into full circles or half moons, leaving them similar in width for even cooking. About a quarter inch wide is perfect.
Once they are all cut, start layering them in the pan, vertically (so the skin is up) on top of the crushed tomatoes. Alternate the veggie slices so that they form a pattern — preferably one you can follow to make rows of veggies in alternating colors. You can make rows, spirals, or any pattern you like.
What Makes Baked Ratatouille Healthy?
Well, I shouldn't have to tell you this but veggies are good for you! Full of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and more — this ratatouille is a one-two punch of everything your body needs.
- For one, tomatoes contain lycopene, which is a great cancer-fighting compound. You will still get all the vitamin C, fiber, lycopene, and other essential minerals and vitamins from canned tomatoes, so feel free to use them in anything and everything. Plus, they are low-calorie.
- Oregano, thyme, rosemary, and other spices are great because they add loads of flavor without adding extra fat or calories. Spices also work on keeping your digestive and circulatory systems healthy, fight inflammation, and also provide a variety of vitamins and minerals.
- Another good source of vitamin C is the onion. Adding onions to this dish means you're also adding flavonoids and phytochemicals to your body that help your body to maintain everyday processes as well as help to reduce the risks of Parkinson's, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.
- Eggplant is a delicious, low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie fruit that's full of bone-building calcium. It also contains antioxidants that can prevent cancer, heart disease, and other chronic diseases.
- Summer squash and zucchini both provide vitamins A, B, and C. They also are full of fiber, magnesium, iron, potassium, and folate.
- Red wine vinegar has been shown to be an important part in weight-loss efforts, as it can help to reduce body fat. It also suppress your appetite, slow the visible signs of aging, and help regulate your blood sugar.
- Olive oil is everywhere these days, and for good reason: It's a healthy fat that delivers a lot of nutrients and antioxidants.
- Mozzarella cheese is full of calcium, protein, biotin, niacin, riboflavin, and phosphorus. Plus, it's cheese. Cheese is so good!
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- 2 cups crushed tomatoes
- 1 U red onion
- 1 U eggplant
- 2 U zucchini
- 1 U summer squash
- 2 U roma tomatoes
- 2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. oregano
- 1/2 tsp. thyme
- 1/2 tsp. rosemary
- Salt and pepper
- 4 oz. fresh mozzarella
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Spray a baking dish with cooking spray. Pour half the crushed tomatoes in the bottom of the dish. The layer in the vegetables vertically. You can also just randomly toss them in the dish, but the presentation won't be quite as pretty. Sprinkle with herbs, vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper. Top with remaining crushed tomatoes.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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