Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD
Ratatouille, a classic French vegetable dish bursting with flavors and vibrant colors, is a favorite among both vegetarians and meat lovers alike.
This hearty and comforting dish features an array of summer vegetables such as eggplants, zucchini, bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions cooked together in a fragrant tomato-based sauce.
While ratatouille can be enjoyed on its own as a standalone meal, pairing it with the right sides can elevate its taste and create a well-rounded and nutritionally complete dining experience.
Whether you’re looking for suggestions to accompany your homemade ratatouille or seeking inspiration to serve at your next dinner party, we’ve got the perfect ideas to complement this delectable dish.
From crusty breads to creamy cheeses and other protein-rich options, here’s our guide on what to serve with ratatouille.
What is Ratatouille?
Ratatouille is a hearty vegetable stew that originated in the Provence region of France. Known for its vibrant colors, rich flavors, and versatility, ratatouille has become a staple in vegetarian cuisine worldwide.
This classic French dish is considered a summer stew, as the traditional ingredients are at their peak during the French summer. A typical ratatouille is made with tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, onions, garlic, and various herbs.
It is traditionally prepared by sautéing each vegetable separately before combining them together at the end. However, modern recipes may simplify this process by cooking all ingredients together in one pot.
You may find recipes that call for artfully arranging the ingredients in a pattern made for sliced vegetables (sometimes called a tian) or a more rustic version in which the ingredients get a rough chop and are all thrown together.
Balancing Flavors and Textures
Creating a well-rounded and satisfying meal with vegetarian ratatouille involves a thoughtful approach to balancing flavors and textures.
Ratatouille is from the Mediterranean region, so use this as your inspiration – olives, capers, artichoke hearts, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, pasta, bread, seafood, meat, dairy, legumes, and wine could all add Mediterranean flare to your meal.
Because ratatouille already has a savory and herby base, you could opt for a citrus or vinegar element to lighten the rest of the meal. Or you could add a touch of sweetness by choosing something with caramelized onions or roasted garlic.
Traditional French herbs include tarragon, chervil, parsley, and chives, and you may see any of these in a ratatouille recipe. You may also find herbs such as basil and oregano in some recipes.
When you are thinking about what to eat with your ratatouille, you should decide if you want a dish that has the same herbs or complimentary herbs instead.
Finally, think about texture. Do you want something crunchy or chewy since the vegetables will be pretty soft?
Pairing Ratatouille With Grains or Starches
Ratatouille is quite the nutrition dish, but it doesn’t provide a lot of carbohydrates to get our brains really going in the creation of serotonin and melatonin, so we keep feeling uh-mazing.
This gives us an excellent starting point to decide what to eat with our favorite ratatouille recipe. Chewy bread, smooth mashed potatoes, and more can give us a boost of energy with our meal.
Garlic Herbed mashed potatoes
Mashed potatoes are pretty stinkin’ easy to make, even if you need a vegan version. Adding some fresh garlic and tarragon will bump it up several notches and pair well with ratatouille. Fresh will taste better, but dried will take less effort.
I like to leave the skin on potatoes, but peeling them will give you a smoother texture if you prefer.
Crusty Artisan Bread
Bread would be an awesome option and perfect for soaking up all those vegetable juices!
A French baguette may be the obvious choice, but I think that a rosemary focaccia or ciabatta roll would be really yummy. Or even a good dense sourdough or whole grain rye.
Couscous cooks pretty quickly and offers a texture that is different than other pasta you may have tried. Dress your couscous with a lemon vinaigrette dressing to make a bright and simple side dish.
I would also finely dice some red onion and add it to to the couscous after you’re done cooking.
Risotto or Pilaf
Seasoned rice would be super yummy.
A rice pilaf would be the easiest option of the two, but if you have the time and attention to give a risotto, I would strongly recommend it. Especially if you can add a variety of mushrooms to the dish!
Just make sure you don’t stray off. A risotto demands attention.
Brown Butter Gnocchi
Brown butter gnocchi is super easy and yummy. I like to sear the gnocchi in a skillet with a bit of olive oil and whatever herbs and spices I’m using.
Once they have some crust on them, remove the gnocchi and make a brown butter (or brown butter sage!) sauce. Essentially, all you’re doing is adding salted butter to a low to medium-heated skillet and stirring until you get a brown color and a nutty aroma.
Then all you need to do is add back in the gnocchi to coat in the sauce and complete the cooking.
We wouldn’t be talking vegetarian nutrition without making sure we have a protein option, now would we?
Grilled Tofu Skewers
I’m not usually a fan of marinating tofu, but it works pretty well when you’re going to cook your tofu on a grill.
Cube some super firm tofu, slide them onto metal or soaked bamboo skewers, then marinate for 30-60 minutes. An easy option would be to simply use a citrusy vinaigrette.
Add to your pre-heated grill and cook each surface until you have grill marks on every side!
Before you make your ratatouille, mix together rinsed, canned chickpeas, diced cucumbers and red onions, julienned basil, and a vinaigrette dressing, plus optional crumbled feta cheese.
Place it in the fridge to meld together, and enjoy a bright and cool salad with your savory vegetable stew.
Quinoa-Stuffed Bell Peppers
Quinoa is one of those few vegan options that is a complete protein all by itself. And it’s higher in protein than a lot of the other grains we eat.
Cook your quinoa seasoned with your favorite flavor profile. Mix in some cheese if you want, and maybe some other vegetables. Stuff all of that into some hollowed-out bell peppers and cook in a hot oven or a slow cooker until the pepper is nice and soft.
Choose different bell peppers for a fun pop of color!
Poached egg or an Omelette
Eggs would add a nice amount of protein, which is needed when the star of the meal doesn’t really contain a protein component.
But really, super easy, cheesy, simple scrambled eggs would work too!
Vegetarian meatballs can be as simple as heating up a faux meat option according to the packaged directions.
But there are tons of recipes out there that make use of beans, mushrooms, or soy crumbles that you can make use of.
Fresh Greens and Salads
A salad can offer a light brightness to an umami-packed ratatouille.
A salad gives you a chance to incorporate a greater variety of vegetables than you would otherwise. They are also a good opportunity for you to explore unique flavor and texture combinations.
Summer Garden Salad
Ratatouille is a summer dish. So stay on brand with a nice summer garden salad.
On a base of mixed greens, add sliced radishes, cherry tomatoes, and fresh corn. Mix with a honey dijon dressing. Finally, top with some toasted sunflower seeds for some crunch.
Kale and Raspberry Salad
Raw kale has a bitter flavor and a pretty tough texture. Try to massage the kale to improve the texture and the outcome of your salad.
Place chopped kale in a bowl with some lemon juice or olive oil and a pinch of salad, and mix well. Use your hands to rub the kale until all of the leaves are tender.
For your salad, mix your kale with fresh raspberries, walnuts, and crumbled goat cheese. Choose a citrus vinaigrette with a touch of maple syrup or honey to balance the bitterness of the kale.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
Go ahead and buy the washed spinach to make life easier. Add some sliced strawberries, pecans or almonds, crumbled goat cheese, and a poppyseed dressing.
In addition to side dishes, sometimes it’s nice to have something to go ON your main dish. These sauces and garnishes can amp up your ratatouille.
Balsamic Glaze Drizzle
I love a balsamic glaze to add a sweet and tangy flavor. It’s relatively easy to make yourself, but you can buy them in the grocery store too.
I made a balsamic glaze in my recipe for Grilled Eggplant Tomato Stacks. You can check out that link if you want, but essentially, you are just putting balsamic vinegar in a small pot and simmering until it reduces in volume by ~50%.
If you’d rather buy it at the store, look for one that doesn’t have a thickening agent in the ingredients. You’ll get the same consistency, but instead of concentrating the flavor of the balsamic vinegar, it is diluted with the thickener.
Herbed Yogurt Sauce
Use Greek yogurt to provide a cool temperature contrast to your hot ratatouille.
Mix Greek yogurt with your favorite herbs. Fresh would probably taste better, but dried would work too! Top your ratatouille with a dollop or two of herbed yogurt.
Make extra so you can keep enjoying it later! Use it as a dip for raw veggies or whole grain crackers next time you need a snack.
Shaved Parmesan Cheese
Nice and simple, sprinkle some shaved or shredded parmesan cheese on top of your ratatouille to add even more umami.
After you make your ratatouille, give any leftover fresh herbs a rough chop. When you’re ready to service it, sprinkle on the fresh herbs to increase the herby flavor!
Creative Ways to Reuse Leftover Ratatouille
So you decided what to serve with ratatouille and had a fantastic meal.
Now what do you do with the leftovers? You could just have a repeat of the same meal. Or you can get creative and have an entirely new meal!
Ratatouille-Stuffed Bell Peppers
If you didn’t serve stuffed bell pepper WITH your ratatouille, you can try it this way instead.
Prep your peppers, and fill them with your leftover ratatouille and a protein of your choice. Cook in an oven or slow cooker until the peppers are nice and tender. Drizzle with your balsamic glaze or dip in your herbed yogurt.
Make a ratatouille flatbread pizza!
Choose a whole grain pita or naan and spread with herbed yogurt. Top with your leftover ratatouille, then sprinkle on some cheese if desired. I would use crumbled feta or goat cheese.
Bake until the cheese is melted and the ratatouille is warmed through.
If you’d rather have a calzone, use pre-prepared pizza dough.
Put cheese, leftover ratatouille, and a sauce of your choice on half the dough, then fold over and seal. Bake until the pizza dough is cooked, and enjoy.
Don’t have a ton of ratatouille leftover?
Use some sliced, toasted crostini bread, top with strained ratatouille, and put in the oven until warmed through. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and parmesan, and you’re done!
This would make an excellent snack or serve as an appetizer for dinner the next night!
Ratatouille Fritatta or Quiche
Eat your leftovers for breakfast!
Make a basic frittata or quiche recipe, and fold in your leftover ratatouille for an easy, flavorful breakfast. You could even make this the night before so dinner’s ready to go in the morning.
Wine and Beverage Pairings
Your ratatouille is already full of umami and bold flavors, so consider a drink that is a little lighter. A super dark, dry red wine, as much as I love them, may be overkill with this meal.
If I were going to pick red wine to go with ratatouille, I would choose a merlot or even a sweet red blend rather than the darker variety, such as Syrah or my favorite, Malbec.
A dry rose would likely work well too.
In reality, though, wine pairings are subjective. Go with what you like or already have on hand.
Even though I prefer red, crisp white wines are likely a better pairing for ratatouille.
Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay would work well. Or maybe a German Riesling.
Chardonnay is easy to find and is the wine I typically choose when I’m cooking with white wine.
But again, go with your preference!
Water’s always a good choice, but I think you still have some room to enhance the overall meal without alcohol.
- sparkling or flavored water
- herbal tea with citrus or floral notes
- black tea
- fruit juice that isn’t super sweet, such as cranberry or red grape.
Ratatouille is a versatile and delicious dish that can be enjoyed on its own or paired with a variety of complementary foods and drinks.
Whether you choose to serve it as a main course or a side dish, there are plenty of options to enhance its flavors and textures.
Experimenting with different combinations will allow you to discover your own perfect accompaniment for this classic French dish.
So next time you whip up a batch of ratatouille, don’t forget to consider these suggestions and elevate your culinary experience even further.
Need more Ideas for Meal Planning?
Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian, mom, wife, and vegetarian in North Texas. She has dedicated Dietitian Jenn to be a source of information, ideas, and inspiration for people like her, vegetarians that live with people with different dietary beliefs and/or needs in a multivore household.