Slow-Cooker Ratatouille

From Cook's Country | August/September 2013
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Why this recipe works:

The slow cooker is tailor-made for long-cooked stews, but this Provençal dish is chock-full of watery vegetables, and the cooker doesn’t allow for any evaporation—a recipe for bland, runny ratatouille. Draining the canned tomatoes was a good start, and adding some flour at the outset helps,… read more

The slow cooker is tailor-made for long-cooked stews, but this Provençal dish is chock-full of watery vegetables, and the cooker doesn’t allow for any evaporation—a recipe for bland, runny ratatouille. Draining the canned tomatoes was a good start, and adding some flour at the outset helps, too. In the end, tossing the chopped vegetables with olive oil and a little sugar and broiling them before they go into the slow cooker not only adds flavorful browning but also drives off moisture, creating a stewy—not soupy—dish. Garlic and herbes de Provence season the ratatouille as it cooks, and Parmesan cheese and fresh basil finish it off.

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Serves 8 to 10

Herbes de Provence is a French blend that usually includes rosemary, marjoram, thyme, lavender, and fennel. If you can’t find it, you can use 1 teaspoon each of dried rosemary and dried thyme.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 zucchini (8 ounces each), quartered lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence
  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Instructions

  1. 1. Adjust oven rack 4 inches from broiler element and heat broiler. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. Combine eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, 6 tablespoons oil, sugar, garlic, and herbes de Provence in large bowl. Divide vegetables evenly between prepared sheets and spread in single layer. Broil, 1 sheet at a time, until ­vegetables begin to brown, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through broiling. Transfer broiled vegetables and tomatoes to slow cooker.

    2. Stir flour, 2½ teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper into vegetables in slow cooker. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender, about 4 hours on low. Stir in Parmesan, basil, and remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

Get Rid of Excess Moisture

Many of the vegetables in ratatouille—eggplant and zucchini to name two—contain a lot of water. Since it can’t evaporate in the slow cooker, it waters down the ratatouille. To get the vegetables to release moisture before we slow-cook them, we brown them under the broiler first. Its high heat evaporates the moisture, and the browning boosts flavor, too.

BROIL FIRST: Broiling the vegetables adds flavor and prevents soupy ratatouille.

Detail sfs slowcookerratatouille 16
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