Ratatouille Stew

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Whenever I think of Ratatouille, I think of my brother, Cullen.

Before I learned how to cook my own meals(i.e. before I got married), I would often depend on Cullen to make dinner for the both of us(he's also vegan).  I'd ask him first thing in the morning, "Do you think you could make us soup tonight?" and he'd always respond, "I'll see what I can do."  I'd come home from work and could always smell the spices emanating from the house while still standing on the sidewalk.  Dinner is going to be sooo good, I always thought.


One Fall, Cullen decided he was going to make a huge pot of Ratatouille for dinner.  He chopped up winter squash, zucchini, and other vegetables, placed them in the crockpot, added various herbs and spices, and let it cook for the entire day.  When it was dinnertime, we lifted the lid and were greeted with the most incredibly aromatic and flavorful stew.  It was absolutely delicious.  Between the two of us, we ate the entire pot that night.

About a month later, Cullen was away for a week when I had a strong craving for Ratatouille.  I told my mom to which she confidently replied, "I'll buy all the ingredients that Cullen used and we can make it.  All he did was chop everything up and put it in the crockpot."  I remember talking to him on the phone the night my mom and I were preparing it.  I was so sure of myself and was excited to finally make a meal on my own.  Cullen assured me, of course, and said that I would do a fine job preparing the Ratatouille without him.  


Dinnertime arrived and I excitedly took the lid off the crockpot, ladled out a heaping bowlful of Ratatouille, and scooped a large spoonful into my mouth.  I believe the first words that came out of my mouth were, "This is terrible."    

I never tried making Ratatouille since then, and that was in 2008.  A couple weeks ago, though, I started thinking about it again and really wanted to give it another shot.  The first batch I made, I used eggplant, which is traditionally used in Ratatouille, and tomatoes, which were parboiled and seeded.  It was ok, but I remembered that I'm not a fan of eggplant or parboiled and seeded tomatoes.  The second batch I made, I used precut butternut squash from Trader Joes and a can of crushed tomatoes.  It was a little better, but the squash didn't taste fresh and the tomato sauce was lacking in several areas.  The third batch I made, I used a whole butternut squash which I peeled and cut myself, my homemade tomato sauce, and sliced black olives.  

Third time was a charm and I've been enjoying this stew for the past week.  It's simple to make, but full of flavor and texture.  It's the perfect meal to make when you want something simple, hearty, and warming.  No longer will I go five years without Ratatouille in my life.


Ratatouille Stew
make six to eight servings
1 large onion, diced
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
sea salt
1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3/4" cubes
3 zucchini, quartered lengthwise and chopped into 1/2" pieces
1 batch Simple Tomato Sauce, or a jar of your favorite tomato sauce
1/4 cup sliced black olives
1/2 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp fresh sage

In a large pot over medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil and a pinch of sea salt, until fragrant and translucent.  Add butternut squash and a pinch of sea salt, and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add in zucchini and continue to cook for another 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add tomato sauce, olives and herbs to the pot, and stir so all of the vegetables are covered.  Once sauce comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer, and cover.  Cook for about 45 minutes to an hour(or longer), stirring occasionally.  Stew is ready when the squash is softened to your liking.  Enjoy! 

45 comments:

  1. i dislike eggplant too!! ok this looks super good and perfect for a cold day... i've never had ratatouille but my mom WON'T SHUT UP about the movie (i thought it was ok).

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    1. haha oh molly <3 i'm with your mom, i love the movie. but, then again, i just love disney/pixar movies oh so much.

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  2. Beautiful - i bet it's good!

    http://therealfoodrunner.blogspot.com

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  3. I could use a big bowl of that right now! Looks so good!

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  4. This sounds fabulous, and I love how easy it is to make! I definitely had to bookmark this one! :)

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    1. so easy to make! it basically does the work for you ;)

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  5. That sounds so warming and fabulous! I've been especially drawn to soups lately. It's just so darned cold outside! I imagine the sweetness of the butternut squash with the saltiness of the olives tastes great together!

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    1. oh, i have been all about soups lately, too. this weather just leaves me cold to the bones. i love adding olives to things and it works especially well in this stew ;)

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  6. I've always wanted to try ratatouille but I never have...your version with squash and olives is definitely different from the traditional ones I'm used to seeing, but it's a good idea for a winter stew when fresh tomatoes and vegetables aren't available...and I think I would prefer squash over eggplant anyway!

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    1. it's definitely a variation on the typical dish, but when you don't like eggplant, you gotta make it work for you ;) plus, isn't butternut squash just the best?

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  7. Beautiful dish! I love that you included black olives - your brother sounds so amazing, it must run in your family :)

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  8. I just posted a recipe for Ratatouille yesterday! Isn't it the best comforting winter dish? I love eggplant, zucchini and red peppers in mine. It's just so yummy! Glad you found some ratatouille love again!

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  9. oooh i love the look of this ratatouille.. home made sauces always are the best! i dont like eggplant much either:) i always remove them from my bowl and pass them to hubbs:)

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    1. eggplant is just a hit or miss vegetable. you not liking it makes my disgust for it more justified ;)

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  10. YUM I love Ratatouille! Will be trying this for sure. :)

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  11. So pretty! I hate it when you try something that someone else made and then can't replicate it. This has happened to me plenty of times! ;)

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  12. What a great winter dish! Has Cullen tried your version yet?

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    1. thanks, lovey. he has not. i haven't seen him the last couple of weeks :/

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  13. Isn't it amazing how the same ingredients, prepared slightly differently (or by a certain someone) can taste so different? I've had the same thing happen, often with a recipe from my parents, that take me ages to get right... but it's the best feeling in the world when it finally turns out. This ratatouille sounds just perfect! Warm, comforting, and delicious... just as it should be! :)

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  14. I've never used butternut squash in my ratatouille, I may try that one day. :)

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    1. you should! it's just to mix it up ;)

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  15. Yummy, this looks fabulous Caitlin - and so bold with the ingredients, I love the addition of squash! I'm with you and have never loved the eggplant part of ratatouille. I came home from France with a wonderful (though time consuming) recipe that I plan to make again in the fall. This looks just fantastic!

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    1. thanks, shira! i can't wait to see your time consuming recipe ;)

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  16. I love the idea of making ratatouille in the slow cooker--I'm collecting as many slow cooker recipes as I can right now. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. you are welcome, michelle! enjoy!

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  17. YUM!! That looks so colorful and delicious. Love the story about your brother!

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    1. thanks, bianca! i could have a whole other blog just sharing stories about him ;)

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  18. Got mine on the stove right now, doing the 45-minute simmer. Great and easy recipe!

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    1. that's great to hear! i hope you enjoy ;)

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  19. Five years without ratatouille? I think I'd die. Actually, it's been a couple of months since I last made one so I think it needs to go on next week's menu plan, with butternut pumpkin!

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  20. Yay, I'm glad you finally got the ratatouille right! :D I've never had it with winter squash before, but I love that idea--I'm going to have to try it.

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    1. thanks, kiersten! it's so good with winter squash ;)

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  21. I love the thought of your brother making soup for you- that idea just warms my heart. I never would've thought to add winter squash to ratatouille, but that sounds absolutely amazing! This soup sounds so perfect right now- healthy and hearty. Yum!

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    1. thanks, kristy! i don't know what i would have done if he didn't make me dinner...

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  22. looks all kinds of delicious! i love ratatouille.

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  23. It's not just the picture, it's the colour. Such a beautiful dish, definitely on my list!

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