Ratatouille Méridionnale


Méridionnale is the southern region of France famous for its ratatouille, classic in that it contains tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, onions, and eggplant, but unusual in that it is cooked gently in the oven, not on the stovetop. This, according to Daniel Boulud, in his cookbook, “Café Boulud Cookbook,” published in 1999.

I bought the cookbook after going to Café Boulud in New York City, not once, but twice during the same visit back in 2010. My daughter and I stayed at the Surrey Hotel, located adjacent to the restaurant. I had accompanied my daughter to New York City for a major interview, which all turned out well.

To make our first night easy I’d made a reservation at Café Boulud, and it was so perfect that went went the next day for lunch. The food, the service, the ambiance – all was truly perfection. One thing that I remember is that when you were brought the check, it came with just-out-of-the-oven Madeleines.

The cookbook is uniquely divided into four parts.
1. La Tradition – the traditional dishes of French cooking
2. La Saison – the seasonal specialties of the market
3. Le Voyage – dishes from lands far and near, and
4. Le Potager – vegetarian dishes that celebrate the bounty of the garden.

So many recipes jumped out at me when I first read the book. A roasted chicken stuffed with a Tuscan bread filling that included chicken livers and prosciutto, for example, and veal chops stuffed with fontina and porcini. But I chose this ratatouille recipe, from the “La Tradition” section.

Right now my garden is abundant with most all of the ingredients in this hearty vegetable dish, so there’s no better time than the present to make ratatouille.

Ratatouille Méridionnale

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled, split, and germ removed
1 onion, peeled, trimmed, cut into 1” chunks
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, deveined, cut into 1” chunks
2 yellow bell peppers, as above
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
1 small eggplant, about 4 ounces, trimmed, cut into 1” chunks
1 zucchini, scrubbed, trimmed, cut into 1” chunks
1 yellow squash, scrubbed, trimmed, cut into 1” chunks
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded, cut into 1” chunks
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped thyme leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon thinly sliced basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In order for the vegetables to retain their distinctive flavors, you will need either to cook them in batches or to cook them in two separate sauté pans.

Warm 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add 1 clove of garlic, the onion, and the chunks of red and yellow pepper. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until the vegetables soften a bit but don’t take on color, about 5 minutes.

Either remove the vegetables and wipe out the pan or, while the peppers are cooking, take another sauté pan and warm the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat. Add the second clove of garlic, the eggplant, zucchini, and squash and cook and stir for 8 to 10 minutes, this time allowing the vegetables to color a bit.

Combine the sautéed vegetables in one large ovenproof sauté pan or baking dish and stir in the tomato paste, tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaves. Cover the pan with a circle of parchment paper, pressing the paper against the vegetables.

Put the pan in the oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring the ratatouille every 15 minutes or so.

The ratatouille is done when the vegetables are meltingly tender but still retain their shape. Remove the bay leaves and garlic.

Serve while it’s hot, or when it reaches room temperature. Just before serving, stir in the basil leaves and the squirt of lemon juice.

The ratatouille can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator.

Before serving, bring it to room temperature or warm it gently in a slow oven.

I served the ratatouille with roasted chicken. Simple and delicious.

I was really surprised after all the cooking time as well as stirring that the pieces of vegetables remained intact. I have seen many a ratatouille look like mush.

So it’s for that reason alone that I will make this recipe for ratatouille again. It’s pretty, delicious, and perfect for a glut of ripe vegetables.

57 thoughts on “Ratatouille Méridionnale

    • Oh really? Did you happen to see the chicken in samfaina recipe I posted on a while back? Maybe in the winter. It’s a basque ratatouille with chicken. Very hefty, but it was so good. Very similar ingredients. Of course they’re claiming they “invented” ratatouille!

  1. Mimi, I was just debating what to serve as a side dish with chicken tonight when your post popped up. Side dish tonight — main dish for me for the next two days! Wonderful backstory about its history and your trip to NYC. Memories are made of such as this, xo.

    • Perfect. It really is a good recipe. My husband doesn’t like eggplants, but since they kept their shape he was able to pick them out! And it was good with the chicken.

  2. What a briliant idea for Avoiding the typical problem of the veggies breaking apart from all the stirring that’s needed when this is cooked on the stovetop. Plus the oven baking intensifies the flavors, I imagine. Going to give this method a try!

  3. Ratatouille is our all time favorite so thank you for another recipe of it to try! Plus I adore the movie version too so it’s a win-win idea for a Friday night! Happy cooking Mimi!

    • Thanks! I just recently watched part of the movie. It was honestly odd to see all of those rats in the kitchen 🤣🤣

    • Oh, I’m so glad you had the same experience! It is a small restaurant, but not noisy, which I like. I really liked how this ratatouille came out. You’ll like it, too.

  4. I love ratatouille! Thanks for this recipe – I love that the veggies keep their beauty and individual flavors. It’s like a bowlful of treasure!

  5. I first learned about Ratatouille in the animationfilm with the rat, where the boy cooked a meal for a critic one.
    He cooked Ratataouille, remembering the critic one to his childhood.

    I think you recipe could do something like this – remembering the own childhood.

    • I just recently saw that movie! It was so strange to see rats in a restaurant kitchen! Thank you for your comment.

  6. I sat at the bar of a French Bistro just the other night and ordered ratatouille as a pre-dinner nibble. As I nibbled on crunchy eggplant I wondered how a French restaurant could screw up ratatouille! Of course the restaurant is called La Poubelle, so maybe I should have known! GREG

    • Are you serious?!!! That’s the name of the restaurant? In Los Angeles? Wow. Well, you probably won’t be going back there. Or, was it good? Maybe it was a cutting edge thing?😳!!!

  7. I saw this one on Instagram this morning while I was drinking my morning coffee, and I immediately knew what I wanted for dinner! This looks amazing, Mimi. Such a classic recipe…but then again, there is a reason why it’s a classic!

    • Exactly! And it’s so nice to pull vegetables out of the garden this time of year and make something so wonderful!

  8. I haven’t made ratatouille since I made the version used in the Disney movie! It is such a great, healthy main or side dish! How wonderful that you went to Chef Boulud’s restaurant in New York. Would have loved to have been there with you!

    • That’s because my husband hates it. I don’t think he’s ever tried it, but he hates it. I grow Japanese eggplant, and I just used two, and the recipe called for one regular size eggplant.

  9. Neat recipe. I’ve made ratatouille in the oven — just toss everything on a couple of sheet pans (I divide the veggies by how long they take to cook). Basically roasted ratatouille. Your recipe looks great — thanks.

  10. Luck you to have gone to Café Boulud — twice! I would love to eat there. This is such a great classic dish and yours looks like it was executed with perfection. :-) ~Valentina

    • I just looked online at open table and the restaurant is still almost fully a 5 star rating. So I’d still recommend it, even though I went long ago. When restaurants are chef owned they tend to be nothing but perfect, I have found, even when they have multiple restaurants, which is mind-boggling. His fancier restaurant Daniel is just about 2nd to Le Bernardin, which almost comes in first place. I need to go there next!!!

  11. Mimi, the oven roasted method for ratatouille is our favorite, hands down. We love the stuff because when the garden is fruitful you can make huge batches and freeze it for those cold winter days. But, it’s best fresh out of the oven with a glass of wine (red for me please) and some crusty bread…

    • What a great idea, to freeze the ratatouille. I’m sure it holds up well. My husband actually ate some of it, although he was more interested in the roasted chicken.. but he won’t eat eggplant, which is probably my favorite part.

  12. Mimi, what a gorgeous ratatouille! I love how the vegetables are all sautéed then baked. This will be my go-to ratatouille recipe!

Leave a Reply to Ronit Penso Tasty Eats Cancel reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.