Ratatouille is a classic end-of-summer French stew that is packed with fresh produce like tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash, and bell pepper. Easy to make and say, this dish like in the movies is an absolute crowd pleaser and veggie lover’s fantasy.

Though Ratatouille is said to originate from France, its style of preparation is suggestive that it is closer to Spanish cooking from the region Basque. The traditional recipe calls for tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and onions and was further developed in the Nice and Provencal regions of France. The word itself has an interesting meaning, the “rata” is French for chunky stew and “touiller” is a French verb meaning, “to stir up”.

According to the Provencal tradition, herbs de Provence was the only official blend of spices that could be used as they were traditionally grown in the region. These included: rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme, serpolet (wild thyme), savory, and sometimes lavender. It is said that Provencal Chefs would scorn any who dared call their dish Ratatouille Niçoise if it was prepared with herbs other than these.

Because of the rough cut of the veggies and cheap food that would accompany it like pasta, rice, or bread, ratatouille was associated with peasant food. During the 20th century, ratatouille has spread with French cuisine to almost every corner of the globe and the word has entered the English language. Over time, however, this family dish for the poor Frenchman has become a dish made by top chefs and served in luxury restaurants.

This dish is easy to make and provides a wholesome meal for the family. The great thing about ratatouille is its versatility – it can be cooked in different ways with different produce. The dish can be served as a side dish, main appetizer, or entrée and can be served hot from the oven or at room temperature or even cold.