Slow Cooker Ratatouille A couple of weeks ago my family was on vacation in sunny southern California.  Several friends commented on my instagram photos that it was unusually cool and rainy back home in Idaho.  As much as I adore sunshine and beach weather, as a temperate-blooded Seattle girl, I couldn’t wait to get home to cooler temperatures.  Turns out it was just a cruel joke by mother nature.  Like much of the rest of the country, we came home to a heat wave.

A lot of people only pull out their slow-cookers in the fall and winter, but it’s actually one of my favorite cooking methods when the temperatures rise and it’s even too miserably hot to venture outside to the bbq to grill.  It doesn’t put out a lot of heat in your house, and it’s super low maintenance.  The great thing about this recipe that makes it absolutely perfect for summer is that it uses tons of vegetables, and most of these are ones I have growing in my yard.  It’s a great way to use up those garden goodies!  Even if you don’t have a garden yourself, these classic summer veggies are in season right now, which means they should be at low prices in stores as well.

Summer Veggies 2

Traditional ratatouille, cooked uncovered in the oven, relies on evaporation to get rid of the large amounts of moisture contained in the vegetables.  If you just tossed all of the vegetables in a slow-cooker, a device designed to trap and contain heat and moisture, you’d get a watery mess.  That’s what has turned me away from slow-cooker ratatouille recipes in the past, and what made me so excited to see a solution in a recent issue of Cook’s Country.  Broiling the vegetables before popping them in the slow-cooker not only evaporates a lot of the excess liquid, but it adds flavor through caramelization.  The result is an amazingly flavorful, thick vegetable stew.  It may not be the prettiest dish (okay who am I kidding, it’s not pretty at all) but I will tell you- I could NOT stop eating this stuff.  It was so perfect with a yummy loaf of crusty bread, and it made the perfect light summer meal.  What amazed me the most, is that my kids ate it without a second thought.  I told them it was soup, and didn’t mention it was straight-up 100% vegetables and none of them complained.  I’m still sort of amazed by that.  Maybe I forgot to feed them that day so they were unusually hungry.  It happens.

Seriously though, I wish you could all come over to my house and eat a bowl of this because I know it just sounds like a bunch of vegetables tossed in a crock pot but trust me- it’s SO GOOD.  Just try it.  It’s good for you (bonus!).  We’ll start with eggplant, zucchini (you could use some yellow squash too), red bell pepper, onion, and garlic.

Summer Veggies

Chop them up into big pieces and drizzle with olive oil, a little sugar, and some spices.

Chopped Garden Veggies
A signature flavor in this dish, and lots of French cooking, is herbs de Provence (Provence is a region in France).  You can find it with the rest of the spices in the grocery store.  It’s one of my favorite seasonings, a mix of yummy things like rosemary, savory, fennel, basil, thyme, and most uniquely, lavender.

Herbs de Provence

You’ll spread out your veggies over 2 baking sheets and trust me, you’ll need both!  This will look like a ridiculously large amount of food, but it cooks way, way down, so resist the urge to cut the recipe in half.  Pop those under the broiler until they’re nice and golden brown and caramelized.  If you have heat setting options on your broiler, I’d recommend using a medium heat so they can broil for a good 10 minutes or so.  This step gets rid of lots of liquid and adds great color and flavor.

Roasted Veggies

As soon as those veggies are done you can toss them in your slow-cooker along with a big can of diced tomatoes that have been drained.  Next time I make this I’m going to experiment with fresh tomatoes, but the canned work great.

Drained Tomatoes

That all gets stirred together with a little flour (which will thicken the juices into a sauce as it cooks) and salt and pepper.  Cook it on low for about 4 hours.  I love this recipe for Sundays because we’re away at church for 3 hours, so I can start it cooking before we leave and it’s hot and yummy right when we get home (and the house smells like heaven.)

Flour in veggies

To finish, add in fresh chopped basil and grated Parmesan cheese.  The original recipe calls for adding in additional olive oil at the end, but I didn’t feel like it needed that at all. I did however feel that it would benefit from just a bit of acidity so I added in a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and it was perfection.

Parm and Basil in Ratatouille

I’m telling you, this is like pure summer in a bowl.  Every yummy flavor of your garden all in one dish.

Perfect Summer Garden meal-Slow Cooker Ratatouille from Our Best Bites

And it must, must be eaten with a big chunk of crusty bread.

Crusty Bread

This easily serves 8-10 as a side dish, and if you want to make it a more substantial meal, pair it with grilled cheese panini, or a ham and cheese sandwich and a salad.  It also goes great with grilled chicken, fish, or steak.  Or pasta.  Okay, pretty much anything.  And as one reader noted after eating it in France, it’s great served over something like couscous, rice, or pasta as well.

The perfect summer garden meal-Slow Cooker Ratatouille from Our Best Bites

 

 

 

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59comments

  1. 1
    Carie says:

    This sounds amazing! I have a ton of tomatoes from my garden. Do you think I should try broiling them with the rest if the veggies, or just stick them in the crock pot raw? It just kills me to think of using canned when I have so many fresh.

    • 1.1
      heather r says:

      I’m with Carie. We have tons of cherry tomatoes, but wondering if they should be cut in half and broiled or just tossed in slow cooker.

    • 1.2
      sara says:

      I know! If you’ve ever read Cook’s Country, you know they test EVERYTHING in a recipe, and the author tested this with tomato paste, fresh tomatoes, and canned tomatoes, and the canned worked best so that’s what the recipe was designed around. But I think with some experimenting, fresh would work great too. My tomatoes are just barely turning red, so in the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to try it out and see!

  2. 2

    This sounds truly perfect for summer. Lovely recipe!

  3. 3
    RitaMarie says:

    This does sound yummy and perfect for the Summer veggie season. Could I use corn starch to thicken it? (Hubby has a wheat allergy)

  4. 4

    What a great way to use all the summer veggies coming in right now. I love finding new ways to use what is in my garden.

  5. 5
    Tieghan says:

    This sounds awesome, I love it!

  6. 6
    Kathy says:

    Yum! I love using my slow cooker in the summer too! It definitely keeps it cooler in the kitchen!

  7. 7
    Heather says:

    So our broiler has two settings: high and low. Would low be preferable to high in that case?

  8. 8
    Paula says:

    I fell in love with Ratatouille when I was a missionary in France. It is the perfect summer dish. I’m excited to try it in a slow cooker. I remember the first time I was served it was over couscous. It is very good that way but a crusty loaf of bread works well too.

  9. 9
    Erika says:

    This may sound like a lame question, but is this served hot? Or could you do it cold like a gazpacho?

    • 9.1
      sara says:

      It’s usually served hot, but I ate some cold and it was still delish :) Because of the flour, it thickens quite a bit when chilled, so I prefer it hot.

  10. 10
    Robin B. says:

    Any ideas if you aren’t an eggplant person? Otherwise it sounds SO good!

    • 10.1
      Melanie I. K. says:

      I love ratatouille and have made a similar version for many years. If the eggplant in the store looks pathetic, I just use extra zucchini to replace it.

  11. 11
    Amy says:

    The crusty bread in your picture looks so good. Did you make it yourself? I like the convenience of buying French bread at the grocery stores but I don’t like the quality. Is there a good bakery that makes good crusty bread? I live in Utah. Anybody?

    • 11.1
      Sandy says:

      French bread in SLC, UT – Gourmandise or Eva’s Bakery

    • 11.2
      amber says:

      crumb brothers! best. bread. ever.

    • 11.3
      sara says:

      I bought the one in this photo. My local grocery stores have terrific selections in the bakery section. Many national chains sell Le Brea, which is always really yummy, and I love par-baked breads you can buy at the grocery store and finish baking at home. If you want to bake your own, my absolute favorite to serve with this (that in bread terms is really quick and easy) is our Rosemary Focaccia Loaves.

  12. 12
    Nessa says:

    All those fresh veggies look killer!

  13. 13
    Kathryn says:

    I don’t keep Herbs de Provence on hand. I use Emeril Legasse’s recipe whenever I need it – equal parts oregano, basil, fennel, savory, marjoram, thyme, and rosemary. It is wonderful. I have seen herbs de Provence recipes with or without lavender, so you could probably add a bit of that, too, if you wanted.

  14. 14
    Madeleine says:

    I love when you guys post vegetarian recipes, this looks delicious!

  15. 15
    Meredith Bleak says:

    Thank you, thank you for a great dinner idea tonight! We have been traveling for a week (read eating out, A LOT) and I was so happy to see this and make it. Even better, my picky kids devoured it! Cheers to kids eating veggies and loving it :-)

  16. 16
    Melanie I. K. says:

    My family loves to eat ratatouille served over cheesy polenta; it is one of our favorite meals. I cook a batch of polenta, spread half of it in a pyrex dish, cover with sliced or grated mozzarella cheese, then top if off with the remaining polenta. Let the polenta sit a while to firm up then bake at 350 for about 20 minutes to rewarm and help the polenta further solidify. Slice into squares and spoon the ratatouille over top each person’s serving. It’s so yummy!

  17. 17
    Lorelei says:

    Just made this for dinner using our electric pressure cooker. Followed the recipe except my eggplant was bad so replaced with yellow summer squash then put it in my electric pressure cooker on high pressure for 40 minutes and did a quick pressure release. Great texture, beautiful color, and delicious flavor! Thanks for the recipe!

  18. 18
    Julie D. says:

    A friend once served ratatouille to me on pizza. It is delicious!

  19. 19
    Eileen Curran says:

    I LOVE when you can start having conversations with your kids. My 3 year old is my little sidekick! We talk and talk all day long. It’s the cutest most amazing thing to me the conversations she can have. I also love the 1-18months stage where they’ve discovered the world and again start using the cutest little words!

  20. 20
    Heather says:

    Do you peel the eggplant?

  21. 21
    Melissa says:

    I am making this right now and it smells DIVINE. Only 2 hours into cooking, but I had to sneak a taste and it left me drooling!

  22. 22

    AMAZINg giveaway wow! I came to find a dinner recipe but think i’ll try my luck first ;)
    My favorite thing about my lil baby guy right now (who will turn one next week) is the way he tries to talk with us. it is absolutely hilarious how serious his face is when babbling something to us as if we understand and his face light up when we smile. Love.

  23. 23
    Lori says:

    I have never known what to do with eggplant…and now I do! Made it for dinner tonight. It is beastly ugly to look at, but tasty. I left my vegetables under the broiler until they were quite black (maybe 15 mins with some spatula tosses), so my finished project is very dark and caramelized.

  24. 24
    Anne says:

    Yum! I made this for family on a gluten/dairy-free diet, so I subbed 2 T. cornstarch for the flour and left out the parmesan. Divine! The pickiest (seven year-old) eater in the bunch raved over the sauce. What a keeper! And it does feed a crowd. Can’t wait to eat the leftovers with some cheese. :-)

  25. 25
    Amber says:

    Making this right now! It smells delicious, can’t wait to try it!

  26. 26
    Trina says:

    this was a great!!! I had never had it before – although I thought the eggplant didn’t hold up very well but it was nice to have something to do with it and not just let it sit there and go bad (we get it in our Bountiful Basket) – it was such a hit that my daughter asked for it for her birthday dinner tonight – so I’m back to get the recipe again!

  27. 27
    Karen says:

    I would not classify this recipe into the Dump and Go category. Although it is a great way to incorporate many of the bountiful vegetables of the summer, the recipe is more complicated than simply adding to a crock pot and turning it on for the day. I am thinking it was inappropriately listed in the featured category.

  28. 28
    Laura Hoggard says:

    This was amazing! I had my doubts…but I am so glad I made it. Soooo good :)

  29. 29
    Hannah says:

    I made this because I trust your taste; i’ve never had ratatouille before and eggplant done wrong is nasty. You were right. It was warm, comforting, and delicious. I am pleasantly surprised by just how good it is. My kids don’t care for it, which wasn’t a surprise; they avoid all of the ingredients whenever possible, but I’ll keep making it in the summer and someday they will realize just how good this is. Thanks for posting another great recipe! And to other readers: it’s definitely worth a try!

  30. 30
    Kesa says:

    Sara, making this right now and wishing that I could pick up the phone to call you. Can you even imagine what your life would be like if we all had your number..?.. no good. Hahaha so now that I sound like a creeper, the reason I’d call is because I really wanted to make this, so I started and realized I didn’t have bell peppers. An hour later I am home from the store, but now it is WAY too late to do this in the crock pot…so it is on my stove, I am wishing I had your advice, but I’ll let you know how it goes. I have it on low with the lid on. After broiling the veggies the house smells A-M-A-Z-I-N-G so we will see. If it is not as great as I dreamed…it’s my fault and I will try again the right way. Such a big emergency…I know. :) Thanks for all the great recipes! I tried ratatouille for the first time about a month ago at a restaurant and fell in love, wishing I could make it at home and then this recipe appeared, you ladies are great!

    • 30.1
      Kesa says:

      Alright, the verdict…it worked! It is delish!! There was just a couple of changes I made because of food issues I have and preference. I wanted it to be a little more tomato-y and I can’t have flour, but I needed something to thicken up the sauce part of it, so I added one 6oz can of tomato paste and I can’t have sugar so I also added in some honey once I turned the stove off. Overall, very yummy, so excited to have this big pot of veggies for a few days!!

  31. 31
    Jeannette says:

    Way delicious!! My husband and I are big fans, my kids picked at the chunked veegetables but loved the saucy part. Kids…. So good though, I can’t wait to make it throughout the summer!

  32. 32
    Nate Astle says:

    I have made a similar version before but I would put some browned ground beef in to get a little bit of protein in it. This is one of my favorite early fall recipes to have and it freezes really well to have later on in the winter time when you can’t find the summer squash.

  33. 33
    Miranda says:

    Made this tonight and it was a big hit! Now I need to find a friend with some excess eggplant!

  34. 34
    Holly says:

    Trying to figure out if I can make this work on a weeknight after getting home from work….think it would work in a crockpot on high for 2 hours?

  35. 35
    Jennifer says:

    Making this tonight for tomorrow’s dinner. Someone asked about good, crusty bread in Utah. Harmon’s grocery store has the best bread. I am an Italian girl from New Jersey and we are very picky about our bread!

  36. 36
    Shannon says:

    I just wanted to say I made this recently when I had some girls over for dinner, and it was delicious. Holy yum. So much so that the other girls asked for the recipe and I passed along the link. This is definitely one of my new summer favourites!

  37. 37
    Julie says:

    Wow. I made it twice in one month. That was amazing. Thank you!

  38. 38

    I’ve got this in the crockpot right now and it smells so good! I’m excited to try a new recipe that’s chocked full of healthy veggies!

  39. 39
    Tami says:

    This is wonderful! I have been slowly cooking my way through this website and with each endeavor finding recipes that are truly delicious. This one was no exception! I tried this with a huge (can you say cantaloupe?! Yeah, that’s how big) fresh tomato from a friends garden and it was fantastic!!! This will be a staple in our home from now on. Thanks for the great recipes!

  40. 40
    Holly t. says:

    This is one of my favorite dishes! The best way to eat it is served over this recipe for cheesy polenta-http://allrecipes.com/recipe/cheesy-polenta/ the only difference I do is use mozzarella cheese for the polenta. Try it, I promise it is amazing!!!

  41. 41
    Frank says:

    Hi all,

    We were very pleased with this recipe! Very quick to prepare. One caveat, it did give me wretched, explosive gas all night long. I was forced to sleep on the couch. I still have gas, in fact I am tearing ass right now. Recommend installing a bio hazard quarantine facility in your home after eating. Enjoy!

  42. 42
    Trina cudney says:

    hi – I’ve commented before about how much we like this! and I hadn’t made it all winter long but here we are with my #3 child turning 15 on Wed and I asked her what she wanted for her birthday dinner and this is what she asked for!!! and since we have friends and family coming over to celebrate I am having to make 3 crockpots full (on a forecasted 90 degree day!!) – Thanks for all your wonderful inspiration this mom of 7 LOVES it!

  43. 43
    Billie Sue Patrick says:

    I’ve made ratatouille before,and my family has always loved it. Well, yesterday I couldn’t find my recipe so I started looking online. I was dubious about using a crock pot, but I was intrigued by the idea of roasting the vegetables first. OMG! This is the best ratatouille I’ve ever had. I made two minor substitutions. I used fresh tomatoes instead of canned. I did not roast them. I peeled and diced them, then added them into the crock pot with the roasted vegetables. I did not have herbs de province so I used fresh rosemary, thyme, and lavendar finely minced. I served it with brown rice and a nice baguette. Once again, this is the best ratatouille ever. Roasting the vegetables is pure genius. Thanks so much for sharing this wonderful recipe.

  44. 44

    Hey there!

    I’m a Virtual Assistant working with a client, Tiffany of Eat at Home Cooks on a summer series called “100 Days of Summer Slow Cooker Recipes”. We’re hoping to feature your recipe in the series! We never share the recipe, just the picture, a blurb about why we think it is great, and a link back to this page for readers to come visit you all and get the recipe straight from the source!

    We’ve had GREAT success with our series, and all of our featured sites have gotten lots of traffic and new followers. Everyone’s been loving it!

    If you’d rather not be featured, just shoot me an email and I’ll take you all off the list. :)

    You can visit http://eatathomecooks.com/2014/05/100-days-of-summer-slow-cooker-recipes.html to see what’s been featured so far, and how we’re doing it.

    Let me know if you have any questions!

  45. 45
    Lori B says:

    Can you not just roast all the veggies with the seasonings as you advised, and call it done? Skip the slow cooking entirely?

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