This ratatouille recipe is in one word: flawless. It’s vegan, easy to make, easy to transport and easy to eat. Ratatouille is the perfect picnic food because it’s delicious at any temperature. It’s best when served barely warm, direct from the cooled baking dish.
Simply transfer the cooked vegetables from the baking dish to a large travel container and don’t forget biodegradable plates and flatware. Make a large batch of couscous (large Israeli pearls or regular will do nicely) or brown rice to serve as the bed for the tender vegetables. In order for this dish to work perfectly, you’ll want to use a mandolin slicer but a very steady hand and a sharp knife will also do.
Perhaps you’ve had a perfect Ratatouille recipe for lunch in a French café or perhaps you’ve only encountered the dish in the delightful animated film “Ratatouille” about an adorable chef who happens to be a rat. Did you know that esteemed California chef Thomas Keller served as a consultant on the film and it’s a version of his ratatouille recipe that wins the day? His recipe is highly involved and requires cooking each vegetable individually. This ratatouille recipe is simplified but still melt-in-your mouth amazing. I’ve broken with tradition a bit here by adding two new ingredients: smoky paprika to deepen the tomato flavor and fresh tarragon.
Vegan Ratatouille with Israeli Cous Cous Recipe
- 2 cups Israeli pearl couscous
- 3 1/2 cups ounces of organic tomato puree (Muir Glen is a good choice)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil + 1 teaspoon for couscous
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 1 small yellow squash
- 2 small, thin eggplants
- 1 zucchini
- 1 red pepper (the smaller and thinner the better)
- 2 tablespoons tarragon leaves
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. First trace a circle around your pot on a piece of parchment paper and cut it out so you have a perfectly fitted parchment paper steam lid.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a dutch oven on the stove over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic cloves, stirring frequently for 5 minutes. Add 2 1/2 cups of tomato puree (you'll have some leftover), 1/8 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add stir in the smoked paprika.
- Prepare the vegetables by removing the ends of the eggplant, zucchini and squash and slicing very thin (about 1/8 of an inch). Core the red pepper and slice it into rounds, then slice those in half so you have pieces roughly the same size as the squash rounds.
- Begin stacking the vegetables by alternating evenly between the four. Make a short stack in your hand of about two inches tall and then carefully place that in the sauce in the dutch oven. Form snug rows and repeat until you have used all the vegetables.
- Drizzle the remaining olive oil, salt and pepper on top and place tarragon leaves between the rows. Place the parchment paper steam lid on top and bake for 50 minutes. The vegetables will not brown but will be perfectly tender.
- Meanwhile make the couscous. Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium-sized pot with a lid. Toast the couscous over medium heat for 5 minutes, then add 2 1/4 cups water (it will sizzle and sputter). Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15-17 minutes until tender. Serve with ratatouille.
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Photos by Ally-Jane