Fancy vs Lazy Recipe: Ratatouille

Fancy Ratatouille

Eggplant Family

1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped

3 medium Japanese eggplants, cut into ½-inch-thick rounds

4 small zucchini or other summer squash, scrubbed and cut into very thin slices

3 small, sweet red peppers, cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch-thick chunks

1 ½ cups very ripe tomatoes*, peeled, seeded, and diced

2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped

10 fresh basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

¼ cup finely-chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley

6 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil**

Fine sea salt


*The tomatoes are the foundation of the dish. You need to get full, red tomatoes that have been grown in rich soil and sun-ripened. Tomatoes grown in your own backyard garden are best.


**Low-quality olive oil will ruin your dish! Be sure to buy a variety that is cold-pressed in Italy and tells you the harvest and sell-by dates on the label.


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan over medium heat. Lay one layer of eggplant slices into the bottom of the pot and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 7 minutes, then turn the slices over and cook for another 6 minutes, until the eggplant is tender.


  1. Place the finished eggplant slices in a colander to drain while you repeat with the remaining eggplant.


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy pan over medium heat. Lay one layer of zucchini slices into the bottom of the pot and sprinkle with salt. Cook for 4 minutes, then turn the slices and cook for another 3 minutes, until the zucchini is tender.


  1. Place the finished zucchini slices in the colander with the eggplant while you repeat with the remaining zucchini.


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a third pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 6-7 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant and golden brown, and the onion is translucent.


  1. Add the peppers and a pinch of salt. Cook for 4 minutes, until softened.


  1. Add the tomatoes and cook on low heat for 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes have released their liquid into the pot. Then raise the heat to medium high and boil for 2-3 minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated.


  1. Put a layer of the pepper/tomato/onion/garlic mixture into the bottom of a 2 1/2-quart casserole. Add a layer of eggplant and a layer of zucchini, and then sprinkle with basil and parsley. Repeat with the rest of the vegetables. Pour the remaining olive oil on top.


  1. Cover the casserole and simmer over low heat for 9 minutes. Then uncover the casserole, raise the heat to medium-low, and cook until the stew has properly thickened. True Provencal ratatouille should not be watery.


  1. Serve in ceramic bowls with crusty French bread that you have purchased from a family-owned French bakery.


Servings: 4


Prep time: 20 minutes in advance chopping all the vegetables, then 60 minutes dealing with the cooking vegetables, then another hour afterward washing all the frickin’ pots.


Cook time: 60 minutes, during which you will be slaving over pans the whole time, layering vegetables, turning them over, and sticking them in collanders.


Overall appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: You Have Got To Be Kidding. Did I mention how many dishes you would have to wash afterward? This is the kind of recipe that makes lazy people hate cooking.





Lazy Rattatooey



1 onion, diced

1 large eggplant, cut into cubes

4 small zucchini, sliced into rounds

1 bell pepper, cut into strips

2 pints cherry tomatoes

1 garlic clove, minced

A dozen fresh basil leaves, chopped

½ teaspoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

½ cup dry rice


  1. Plop all the ingredients except for the rice and parmesan in a slow cooker. Sprinkle in 1 teaspoon of salt and a little pepper. Cook on LOW for 8 hours.


  1. After 8 hours, turn the cooker to WARM, and leave it until you’re ready to eat.


  1. When you’re ready to eat, prepare the rice according to package directions in a separate pot.


  1. Divide the rice into 4 bowls and then top with rattatooey and ¼ cup parmesan per bowl. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.


  1. There’s not enough protein or calories in rattatooey for a meal, so you will also need to prepare a protein. I like grilling chicken on my George Foreman and then just tossing the cubed chicken in with everything else.


Servings: 4


Nutritional information per serving (without an extra protein):


Calories: 260

Protein: 14g

Carbs: 38g

Fiber: 8g

Fat: 6g


Prep time: about 20 minutes to chop all the vegetables. A couple minutes sticking rice in a pot and boiling water.


Cook time: 8 hours for the rattatooey, but you don’t have to be there!

20 minutes for white rice or 45 for brown.


Overall appropriateness for Lazy Chefs: Very Good! You hardly have to do anything, especially if you can find someone else to help you chop the vegetables.