I cannot tell you how much I love this Slow Cooker Ratatouille! There is something about it that I find comforting and even nostalgic, somewhat like the scene from Disney’s Movie, Ratatouille, where the food critic (Anton Ego) flashes back to his childhood when his mom served him her delectable vegetable stew. My mom also made Ratatouille from time to time when I was a child and I always thought it was such a treat, total and complete comfort food. While it takes a little time to prepare the vegetables, this crock pot recipe is still easy to prepare and tastes fabulous. I love to make it in the summertime when crops are at their peak, and making Ratatouille in the slow cooker keeps the oven off which is a total bonus, but I don’t reserve it only for the warmer months and make it year round. It always tastes amazingly fresh and has a way of brightening up long winter days. I have been playing with this recipe for awhile and think I finally have it just the way I like it. I have seen recipes that called for a drizzle of olive oil or even vinegar, others included olives, and some roasted the veggies first. I’ve tried mushrooms, but was completely disappointed with them which surprised me because I love mushrooms in just about everything else. In this recipe, they kind of watered things down a bit and even muddled the flavors, if you know what I mean. Fresh basil is key but I also love the depth that the Herbs de Provence adds. If you don’t have any, you can substitute 1 teaspoon each of thyme and rosemary. I love to serve my Ratatouille warm over pasta, rice, a baked potato, or even smeared on top of soft crusty baguette slices and sprinkled with fresh Parmesan cheese. It is hearty enough to stand alone as a meatless main course, but could also be served as a side dish along chicken, fish, pork, or even beef. And I have to tell you that your house will smell absolutely amazing while this cooks. Like mine does right now, it’s killing me. I can’t wait to have a big bowl of this Slow Cooker Ratatouille for dinner!
- 1 large eggplant or two smaller ones, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 3 medium zucchini quartered lengthwise and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
- 4 medium tomatoes chopped
- 1 medium red onion diced
- 2 large sweet bell peppers chopped (I prefer orange and yellow for color, but use what you like)
- 6 garlic cloves minced
- 1 container .67 oz chopped fresh basil, or about 1/3 cup loosely packed
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 1 Tablespoon Herbs de Provence
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- Parmesan cheese optional for garnish
Place eggplant and zucchini in a colander in the sink or over a plate, sprinkle with Kosher salt and toss. Let stand for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a 5-qt. slow cooker stir tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, tomato paste, basil, garlic, pepper, and Herbs de Provence together. Add eggplant and zucchini when ready and stir until combined. Cover and cook on high for the first 30 minutes, turn to low and cook for another 3 - 3 1/2 hours, or until vegetables are tender. You can enjoy as is, or serve with Parmesan cheese on the side letting everyone add some as desired. This is also wonderful spread over sliced french bread or baguettes as an appetizer (if prefer a smoother spreading consistency, use your blender or food processor and blend until desired consistency is reached) or on it's own as a side dish or even a light meal. Enjoy!
I usually prepare my eggplant and zucchini first, saving the rest of the veggie prep for while they sit for 30 minutes in the colander. If it's not possible to turn the heat of your slow cooker down, set it to low and plan for about an extra hour of cooking time.
On the basil, it's not very easy to find where I live, and I'm lucky to the fresh basil in the plastic containers in my produce section. If you grow your own or live somewhere that it is more accessible, I wouldn't hesitate to increase the amount by using 1/2 cup chopped basil rather than the rough 1/3 cup I get from the package.