Baked ratatouille is a naturally vegan, gluten free, low calorie French classic with stunning layered presentation made easy by using jarred pizza sauce.
Traditional ratatouille requires vegetables to be cooked and then cooked again in a tomato sauce. While absolutely delicious, this can take ages and dirty up a bazillion pans. Luckily, this baked ratatouille recipe skips a few steps without sacrificing any flavor. Slicing the veggies thin doesn't just look pretty, it speeds up the roasting time.
My old mandoline was so dull it could barely cut through a zucchini so I treated myself to this new slicer and am in love. I'm slicing everything paper thin these days. Mandolines are great for scalloped potatoes and veggie tian recipes like this. A great kitchen tool to have on hand.
In addition to the thin slices, I've got another sneaky little secret about this baked ratatouille recipe. I subbed some jarred pizza sauce for traditional homemade tomato sauce one day in a pinch and am not looking back!
Pizza sauce is better than marinara sauce for this because its uncooked. Yes, its processed and I’m all about making sauces from scratch but some days call for shortcuts. We can’t always spend hours in the kitchen, but still need to get our veggies in. So processed in this case is just peachy as far as I'm concerned. Veggies are the priority here, not being the ultimate Martha Stewart. The world already has one Martha and, let's face it, she's amazing, but most of us regular gents and gals don't do this as a full time job.
There are times for the homemade sauce, sautéing and then roasting the veggies - wait, when is there time for that? Ha, I rarely have time for those crazy long 2 hour recipes anymore! I'm becoming more about the cheats every day that goes by. I just look for ones that don't sacrifice flavor or nutrition and keep things as unprocessed as can be.
Like in this borscht recipe from this summer, every other recipe I've seen calls for boiling or roasting the beets separately. When you already have a pot of boiling broth going for the soup, I just couldn't understand why do it twice. Especially for a summer soup that's supposed to be eaten cold! Why heat the house up more than you have to? Lunacy, I tell you.
Improvisation on old recipes is critical for us busy cooks that like from scratch cooking, but also don't want to be a slave to the kitchen. If you're here reading this now, I assume we're on the same page with this. Welcome my lazy kindred spirit friend.
I put together a quick step by step for making this layered baked ratatouille to prove that it isn't too much of a challenge. If you don't have a mandoline slicer, you're kind of SOL on this one. Sure, a sharp knife will work but you've got to have some serious knife skills to get the veggies this thin and you'll be cursing my name half way through. Don't say I didn't warn you...
This particular baked ratatouille recipe is vegan and gluten free so if you've got some friends with limited diets, this is the perfect dish to share with them. I've got a lot of dairy free / lactose intolerant people in my life so I'm always looking for recipes that don't use dairy.
Until you try to cook for someone vegan, dairy free, or gluten free (or whatever dietary need they have), I didn't even notice how much cheese and gluten-laced carbs we eat. While my love of cheese is up there with my love of my husband on the intensity scale (sorry babe), I kind of enjoy the challenge of cooking without any. Speaking of which, if you're looking for a good vegan Thanksgiving side dish, these roasted carrots with cashew cream sauce are to die for.
For the rest of you that enjoy a bit of cheese like me, you can top this with parmesan toward the end of the baking time and its crazy delicious, but it really doesn't need it. If you do add cheese, just a light dusting will do. No need to go over the top.
So let's get down to what to you serve this with. We've eaten this as a main with a pasta tossed in garlicy olive oil served with crusty bread and a salad. You could sub spaghetti squash if you're really going for extra healthy brownie points too. Just don't do too much pasta since there isn't a ton of sauce here. You want the baked ratatouille to be about a 50/50 ratio to your pasta.
If you're not vegan or dairy free, pair this with a nice cheese board and some other snackables for a casual meal with friends. I'm all about the cheese plate. Its kind of my go to staple for when friends stop by last minute or I don't feel like putting in much effort but want something to snack on while sipping wine and catching up. In fact, its a wonder if you've known me for any amount of time at all and I haven't busted out a meat and cheese board on you.
If that isn't your thing, this baked ratatouille goes well with a lot of Italian / Mediterranean mains like kebabs too. Serve some rice on the side and you're golden.
However you enjoy this recipe, just make it and let me know how it turns out!
- 1 small eggplant
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 medium yellow squash
- 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 tsp. minced garlic
- 1 cup pizza sauce
- 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, divided
- 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil, divided* optional: sprinkle an additional 1/2 Tbsp. on top after baking
- salt and pepper
- oil cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 425° F.
- Use a mandolin to thinly slice eggplant, zucchini, and squash. Set aside.
- Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for 5-6 minutes until softened. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes longer until fragrant.
- Add pizza sauce, thyme, and ¼ tsp. oregano and bring to a low simmer. Add 1 Tbsp. basil and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Turn off and set aside.
- Spray a round rimmed baking dish lightly with cooking spray (dish should be at least 10”, preferably a little larger).
- Spread sauce evenly onto bottom of dish. Lay an eggplant slice on the outside rim of the baking dish. Top with zucchini, overlapping but slightly offset. Top with squash and repeat until a ring is formed. Create an overlapping inner layer, and if room, a third layer as well.
- Spray veggies with cooking spray. Sprinkle lightly with salt, pepper, remaining ¼ tsp. oregano, and remaining 1 Tbsp. basil.
- Place dish in oven and bake for about 30-35 minutes until vegetables are roasted and sauce is bubbling.
- Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with additional 1/2 Tbsp. chopped basil to garnish if desired. Excellent as a side dish or pairs well with pasta as a main.