There’s No Rat in This Ratatouille


Made famous by the Pixar film of the same name, ratatouille is a hearty vegan dish that will not disappoint. (Courtesy of Kari White/ The Fordham Ram)

Made famous by Pixar’s 2007 film, ratatouille is a hearty, vegan dish that will warm your soul as much as your stomach. Consisting of eggplants, zucchini, onions, tomatoes and a whole lot of garlic, this dish can be eaten as a side in a much bigger meal or as the main dish itself. Out of all the recipes that this column has explored so far, this will be the most time and equipment intensive. While recipes for the dish vary, the one that I am using is from All Recipes and is based off of the dish that Remy the rat makes in “Ratatouille.” Compared to other versions I browsed, this recipe shortens the amount of prep time needed. It does, however, require a lot of patience and arm strength, at least if you want to have the effect Remy makes at the end. 

Originating in Provence in the 18th century, it began as a farmer’s end-of-summer stew. Even the name alludes to its bucolic origin: “rata” means stew with whole pieces, while “touiller” refers to the act of mixing pieces together. (Although Linguine in “Ratatouille” is right, the name does sound like “rat” and “patootie.” Not delicious.) It’s not a very fancy dish. However, the vegetables mix and meld together in a wonderfully savory, velvety way, and the colors of the different vegetables are just as appetizing for the eye as the taste is for the tongue. 

Without further ado, let’s get into the recipe. 

Again, we must begin in the grocery store. The ingredients list is as follows: six ounces of tomato paste, one eggplant, one zucchini, one yellow squash, one red bell pepper, one yellow bell pepper, half an onion and a whole bulb of garlic. In addition to these, olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme are used to add extra flavor to this dish. Fortunately, my roommates offered me a quarter onion, a small shallot and thyme, saving me from purchasing those ingredients. We also already had olive oil, salt and pepper, as those are some of our pantry staples. Still, I had to buy most of the vegetables and refresh our stock of garlic. On top of that, I added a loaf of bread. All in all, by the end of my Modern Market shopping trip, I had spent $15. While this isn’t cheap considering how little I purchased, the recipe makes enough for four servings. Had I made this with friends for one of our roommate dinners, it would have ended up costing $3.75 per person, which I consider pretty cheap. 

The real cost of this dish came with the prep work. There was a lot of chopping vegetables. While the recipe says that prep time will take only around 45 minutes, it ended up being nearer to an hour for me. First, you have to slice the squash, zucchini, eggplant and bell peppers. Then, you have to chop up the onion and mince the garlic. Once all of the chopping is down, then you have to mix the onion, garlic and tomato paste together in whatever baking dish you are using. Once you do that, and season it with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, you have to begin laying down the sliced vegetables. While I didn’t stick as closely to a pattern as I could have, I did try to arrange them in attractive lines. It took a hot minute to complete. 

Once those three steps are down, however, it’s easy. All you have to do is sprinkle olive oil, salt, pepper and thyme over the top, then slip it into the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes. I covered my dish with parchment paper, as the recipe suggested, to keep the vegetables from burning on the top. It seemed to work, so I would suggest doing the same. 

The ratatouille was so good. So good. My roommates, who watched as I spent a few minutes taking painstaking photos of the dish, thought it was so good that they gave me permission to quote them in this article. Here are their quotes: “I think it’s so delicious,” from Madeline Ryan, FCRH ’24; “10/10,” said Anna Nguyen, FCRH ’24; and, my favorite, “This is actually really good,” from Isabel Danzis, FCRH ’24. All of these coupled with my mom’s text of “Beautiful!” cemented this as a go-to dinner recipe. It’s not super filling, so I would recommend it as a side or paired with rice. However, it’s fairly cheap, vegan and absolutely delicious. 

While you may not travel through space and time to a particularly heart-warming memory from your childhood as the food critic, Anton Ego, does in the film, this dish will certainly stay with you long after you make it. (Unless you share it with your roommates, and they eat all of your leftovers.) Due to the vast array of kitchen utensils that you need for this recipe, and the necessity of the oven, I rate this recipe as…

Difficulty level: Campbell Hall.