Healthy Eggplant Recipes: Classic Mediterranean Ratatouille

Ratatouille (pronounced ra-ta-TOO-ee) is a classic stewed dish from the Provencal region of southern France. Containing eggplant, squash, peppers, tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil, ratatouille is a heart-healthy part of a Mediterranean diet and one of the most popular eggplant recipes.

Stewed vegetable dishes are found throughout the Mediterranean. This vegetarian recipe for ratatouille is similar to Sicily's caponata and Spain's pisto, all of which use eggplant, peppers and tomatoes – the produce of the Mediterranean diet – to delicious effect.

Serve ratatouille as a side dish to grilled fish or kebabs, as a topping for crostini or as a light lunch entree accompanied by a green salad and crusty French bread. Ratatouille is tasty served hot or at room temperature.

Serves 10

2 medium eggplants, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 tbsp sea salt
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
2 large red bell peppers, roasted and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium zucchini, unpeeled, halved lengthwise and chopped into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp. herbes de Provence
2 cans (28 oz. each) crushed tomatoes
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh thyme
Freshly-ground black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a colander, sprinkle sea salt over the eggplant cubes and let drain for 30 minutes.

Place eggplant on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the extra virgin olive oil. Cover with another sheet of foil and bake 45 minutes, tossing once or twice to recoat the cubes.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 10 minutes. Add roasted peppers, eggplant, zucchini and herbes de Provence and mix well; saute for 10 minutes. Add more salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste.

Add the crushed tomatoes and simmer uncovered over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Add parsley and thyme and simmer five minutes more.

Recipe adapted from Sheila Lukins' All Around the World Cookbook (Workman Publishing, 1994).