I feel like there is a major conundrum with ratatouille. Yes, it’s made with decidedly summery vegetables–eggplant, tomatoes, and zucchini–but it still seems to me like a cold weather dish. At its essence, ratatouille is a hearty vegetable stew, thick and chunky, and exactly the kind of thing you want to tuck into on a chilly night with a big glass of red wine.
So last week, when I was feeling a little blue, and like I needed some good comfort food (and definitely also that red wine), I set out to make a winter ratatouille. It seemed only natural to turn to a slow cooker, the workhorse of cold weather cooking. I also incorporated lots of fresh rosemary, which is an herb I associate with this time of year.
You guys, not to pat myself on the back, but this ratatouille came out perfectly on my very first try. It’s deeply flavorful, rich and saucy, and filled with hunks of tender vegetables. Red wine and tomato paste provide a savory umami boost, and a shower of fresh herbs (you could use basil, parsley, or even scallions) brightens things up just before serving.
To make this a one dish meal, I topped my slow cooker ratatouille with fried eggs, but you could also pair it with seared salmon or scallops, or chicken sausages. It’s also delicious topped with any manner of cheese: mozzarella, Parmesan, or French comté.
- 1 eggplant (about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds), diced into bite-sized cubes (about 3/4-inch)
- 2 zucchini, diced into bite-sized cubes
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, cut into half-moons
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced into bite-sized cubes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning (or dried thyme or dried oregano)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 large eggs
- Chopped fresh basil
- Combine the eggplant and zucchini in a colander and sprinkle with the salt. Let stand for 30 minutes.
- Pour the tomatoes into a strainer set over a bowl. Crush the tomatoes by hand and set aside to drain.
- Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and pepper and cook, stirring, until the softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 2 minutes more.
- Transfer the onion mixture to a slow cooker and add the crushed tomatoes (discard the liquid in the bowl), wine, bay leaf, rosemary, Italian seasoning, dried basil (if using), and pepper. Stir in the eggplant and zucchini. Cover and cook on high for 2 1/2 hours. Remove the cover and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour more, until the ratatouille is thickened. Discard the bay leaf.
- Spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs 2 or 3 at a time into the skillet and cook until the whites are set but the yolk is still runny. Top each serving of ratatouille with an egg and some chopped fresh basil.