Slow Cooker Ratatouille with Polenta
This Slow Cooker Ratatouille is made an easier spin on the classic French vegetable dish packed with eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, and tomatoes. Served with crispy polenta rounds, this easy dinner is the perfect meatless meal.
This Slow Cooker Ratatouille is the ultimate dish for those days when you have tons of vegetables lying around the house and no idea what to do with them. Made with eggplant, zucchini, yellow summer squash, bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes, this slow cooker dinner is the ultimate vegetarian comfort food.
All you have to do is chop up your vegetables and toss them into a slow cooker. Sit back and let the slow cooker do its thing. Aren’t those the best kinds of recipes? After 4 hours, pop some polenta into the oven, and just like that - dinner perfection!
This easy ratatouille is brilliant as a side dish or a main course. It also makes a delicious sauce, dip, or spread. It’s similar to Caponata or Pepperonata in that it can be utilized in many different ways.
Because ratatouille stores and reheats so well, it serves as a fantastic make-ahead meal. I recommend doubling the recipe and saving the leftovers to serve over a bowl of pasta or grains for lunch the next day. It’s even better the next day!
Looking for a more traditional ratatouille? Try this baked version.
What is Ratatouille?
Ratatouille is a classic French stew that is typically made with end-of-summer produce like eggplant, zucchini, summer squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes. It is believed to be from the region of Provence.
In the classic preparation of Ratatouille stew, all of the vegetables are cooked separately in olive oil and then combined. This version simplifies everything by having the veggies all cook together in the slow cooker. The resulting dish is delicious but it won’t have some of the classic caramelization you would find in the classic version.
To make this tasty recipe, you will need the following ingredients:
- Polenta: Polenta is made from corn and has a similar texture to grits. In this recipe, we bake it into crispy rounds for the perfect complement to ratatouille. Swap in cooked grains, creamy polenta, pasta, or crust bread if you like.
- Zucchini: Zucchini is a high-fiber, low-calorie veggie that is rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other plant compounds.
- Eggplant: Eggplant is an absolute necessity when it comes to ratatouille. It’s a fantastic source of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants.
- Summer squash: This is a type of yellow squash that is harvested when immature, or when the rind is still edible and tender. It’s packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, and adds delicious flavor to the dish.
- Bell peppers: For a really beautiful pop of color, I love to use a combination of red and green bell peppers. Feel free to use any color of bell peppers you prefer.
- Italian seasoning: You can use a store-bought Italian seasoning blend or make your own from scratch with oregano, basil, thyme, and rosemary.
Recipe Tips and Variations
Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks to help you make this Slow Cooker Ratatouille:
- Caramelize the onions first. For some extra flavor, try caramelizing the onions on the stove before tossing them into the slow cooker. Sure, this adds a few extra minutes of prep time. It also makes it even more delicious!
- Layer the veggies. For a more traditional ratatouille, layer the vegetables inside the slow cooker! To do so, slice your zucchini, squash, and eggplant into rounds and layer them over top of finely-chopped tomatoes.
- Add some protein. For an extra satisfying and well-rounded dish, feel free to add the protein source of your choice. This dish goes great with chicken, sausage, or sauteed shrimp. For a vegetarian protein source, I recommend chickpeas, lentils, or tofu.
- Switch up your veggies. The classic vegetables in ratatouille are zucchini, squash, eggplant, and tomatoes. However, you can mix and match whichever vegetables you have at home.
- Substitute tomatoes. If you can’t find fire roasted tomatoes at the store, you can swap them out for your favorite canned whole tomatoes instead.
How to Serve Slow Cooker Ratatouille
Here are my favorite ways to serve this delicious, healthy dinner recipe:
- Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and fresh basil and serve as a big old bowl of hearty stew. You could also try pairing it with a side salad like this Easy Arugula Salad.
- If you’re looking for something more filling for a dinner party, serve this ratatouille as a delicious sauce poured over your favorite pasta. Pair it with crispy garlic bread and this dish instantly becomes a mouth-watering Italian feast.
- Try spooning this ratatouille over a bowl of brown rice, quinoa, or cauliflower rice for a low-carb option. Top with fresh parsley and feta cheese.
- Turn this into breakfast by topping the leftover ratatouille with poached or fried eggs.
- Make polenta bowls for easy meal prep all week by swapping in homemade, creamy polenta instead of the rounds.
How to Store Ratatouille
Trust me when I say that you are going to want to make enough of this sensational dish for leftovers. I typically make a big batch so I can enjoy the leftovers for lunch over the next few days. Before storing the dish, you will need to allow it to cool down to room temperature. Then, transfer it to an airtight storage container and store it in one of two ways:
- In the fridge for up to 5 days.
- In the freezer for up to 3 months.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about this delicious vegetarian dinner recipe:
Do you have to peel your eggplant for ratatouille?
No, you definitely don’t have to. However, if you want to, then go right ahead. I personally enjoy the texture and pop of color that the eggplant skin gives this stew. To each their own!
Can you eat this dish cold?
Sure! Part of the beauty of ratatouille is that it tastes great served hot or cold. If you’re looking for the best way to eat chilled leftovers, I recommend serving it as a cold dip with crudites, chips, or toasted bread.
Is there meat in ratatouille?
Traditionally ratatouille does not contain any meat. If you want to add some protein to the dish, it would be delicious with sausage, chicken, or chickpeas. It is also really delicious with fried eggs and some nice crusty bread.
Slow Cooker Ratatouille with Polenta
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- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cups eggplant, cubed
- 2 zucchini, cubed
- 1 summer squash, chopped
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 1 cup red onion, sliced
- 1.5 cups mushrooms
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 28 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 18 oz. prepared polenta tube
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* 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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