Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole

Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori Avey

Ratatouille for Passover… this idea has been knocking around my head for a few weeks now. It started with the desire to create a vegetarian entree for readers who aren’t eating meat during the holiday. I was looking for something unique– natural, homemade food elevated to another level. It needed to feel substantial enough to be served as a main course and special enough for a holiday. For some reason, I kept coming back to ratatouille.

Many of you are familiar with this dish because of the Disney animated film, Ratatouille, in which a loveable rat chef named Remy surprises a restaurant critic with his elegant, layered spin on the simple vegetable casserole:

Ratatouille, as the chef mentions in the clip, is a “peasant dish.” It originated in the Provençal region of southeast France and was often prepared during the summer when farmers had access to an abundance of fresh vegetables. The name comes from the French cooking term “touiller” meaning “to toss.” The basic idea is a tomato base tossed and cooked with lots of vegetables– zucchini, tomatoes, squash, eggplant. Sometimes it’s all thrown together in a pot, other times the vegetables simmer on top of the sauce. The original concept is super simple and very tasty. Still, there is always room to improvise.

Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori Avey

Loosely based on a lovely recipe by Bruno Albouze I created a spicy, smoky version of ratatouille with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. The tomato base includes peppers, shakshuka-style, as well as smoked paprika, fresh herbs and lots of garlic. I added seared mushrooms to the base to give it a more substantial, meaty texture. Vegetables are sliced thin and layered on the top in a fan-like pattern which makes for a pretty presentation on the dinner table. The casserole is topped with olive oil, garlic and herbs, then baked covered in a slow oven and finished uncovered at higher heat. The flavors are given time to develop here; the spices in the sauce permeate the vegetables and the garlic roasts on top. It’s a beautiful dish, visually appealing with layers and layers of flavor.

This dish takes a long time to make (lots of chopping and slicing), but the good news is you can prep pretty much the whole thing in advance. All you’ll need to do is assemble and cook on the day you serve. To make this Passover-friendly and low carb I served it on a bed of cauliflower couscous (it’s not actually couscous for those who are wondering– it’s purely cauliflower blended to cook like couscous). This would also make a very impressive vegetable side. For a more substantial dish, serve over mashed potatoes.

If you’re not observing Passover, you can use any starch you like– real couscous, rice, orzo. Feel free to play around with the basic concept, it’s really a forgiving recipe. Add your favorite spices and herbs, or use the squash or vegetables that you have on hand. It’s a great way to clean out the produce drawer and look like a champion doing it.

Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori Avey

Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole

Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 lbs vine-ripened tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 lb button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 carrots, minced
  • 2 ribs celery, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, roasted and chopped, skin, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted and roughly chopped, skin, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 anaheim or poblano pepper, roasted and roughly chopped, skin, seeds and stem removed
  • 1 chile pepper, roasted and roughly chopped, skin, seeds and stem removed
  • 8 basil leaves, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp paprika (also known as sweet paprika)
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne (if spice sensitive use 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/2 tsp oregano

Sliced Vegetable Topping Ingredients

  • 4 Roma tomatoes (approx 10 oz), sliced very thin
  • 2 small zucchini (about 8 oz), sliced very thin
  • 2 small Japanese eggplant (about 5 oz), sliced very thin
  • 2 small yellow squash (about 5 oz), sliced very thin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tsp fresh chopped basil

You will also need

  • tongs, large mixing bowl, plastic wrap, sharp knife (serrated preferable) or mandoline, food processor, 11-12 inch round sauteuse pan or heavy bottom skillet, parchment or lid
Prep Time: 1 Hour
Cook Time: 3 Hours 30 Minutes
Total Time: 4 Hours 30 Minutes
Servings: 8 - 10 servings
Kosher Key: Kosher for Passover, Pareve
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyIt's important to have your vegetables chopped, sliced and fully prepared before you begin. There are a few different ways to roast the peppers - click here for options. With this dish I usually throw them directly on the burner of my gas stove and let them cook until the skin chars and blisters. With tongs, carefully turn the peppers so that they roast evenly on all sides. The peppers are done roasting when they are soft and starting to collapse.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyTransfer the roasted peppers to a large mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the peppers to steam for 15 minutes. You can also steam them in a paper bag if you prefer.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyWhile the peppers are steaming, prepare and chop the rest of your ingredients. The Roma tomatoes, zucchini, Japanese eggplant and yellow squash should be sliced very thin, about 1/16 in thickness. This is best done with a sharp serrated knife or a mandoline. It does take a bit of time, but the result is totally worth it.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyOnce your peppers have finished steaming, peel off the skin and remove the seeds and ribs under cool running water. Roughly chop the peeled peppers and set aside.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyIn a food processor, combine the chopped vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped peppers, basil, 2 tsp crushed garlic, salt, smoked paprika, cayenne, paprika and oregano and pulse until you have a rough puree with texture. Taste the mixture; add additional spices and salt to taste, if desired. Note that the flavors will develop more during cooking-- don't overdo the spice, you'll taste it more when the dish is completely cooked.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyHeat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a sauteuse pan or heavy bottomed skillet over medium high until hot. Spread out the sliced mushrooms in a single layer in the pan. Let them stand without stirring for 2 minutes until they are golden brown on the bottom. Begin stirring the mushrooms; continue stirring for another 2-3 minutes till they are nicely browned throughout. Remove mushrooms from the skillet and set aside.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyAdd the remaining 2 tbsp of the olive oil to the pan and sauté the minced onions, carrots and celery, scraping up any brown bits as you stir. Cook until the largest pieces of carrot and celery are soft and the onions are caramelized.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyAdd the mushrooms back to the pan along with the tomato mixture and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, then turn off the heat.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyPreheat oven to 300 degrees F. Start to layer on the sliced vegetables by first overlapping them in a circle around the outer edge. Layer them close to each other; don't worry, you should have plenty of veggies to cover the whole surface.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyContinue the same pattern until all of the sliced vegetables have been used. If you have extra vegetables you may want to double the layer in the center circle.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyIn a small bowl, combine 2 tbsp of olive oil with 1 tsp crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well and drizzle over the top of the sliced vegetables. Sprinkle the top lightly with salt and pepper, then sprinkle the fresh thyme over the top of the dish.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyCover the pan with a lid or a layer of parchment paper. Bake for 90 minutes. Remove the the lid or parchment and increase the heat to 350 degrees F. Cook for an additional 45 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil. Serve hot over cauliflower couscous, mashed potatoes or your favorite starch.
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori AveyThis dish takes a long time to prep, but the good news is you can prepare pretty much the whole thing up to 2 days in advance. Slice the vegetables (a mandolin will speed up this process) and place them into plastic zipper bags. Roast the peppers and make the tomato-pepper sauce, then place in a sealed Tupperware. Mix the olive oil and garlic mixture and chop any herbs for garnish. Refrigerate all of the ingredients. That way, all you'll need to do is assemble and cook on the day you serve. You may want to extend the baking time at 300 degrees by 10-15 minutes if the sauce is cold when it goes into the oven. I don't recommend freezing this dish, as the vegetables will become very mushy when reheated.
  • If you aren't worried about keeping this dish dairy free/vegan, feel free to sprinkle on some grated parmesan for an even more delicious treat. And if you aren't worried about keeping it gluten free or kosher for Passover, serve it with challah or freshly baked brioche-- you can use the bread to soak up all the yummy juices from the pan!
  • Spicy Smoky Ratatouille Casserole Recipe - Healthy Vegan Entree, Side Dish by Tori Avey

Comments (46)Post a Comment

    1. Bruce just looked up his recipe and you’re right! It is very similar. This one’s more smoky and spicy with mushrooms in it to give it a more hearty texture, but the basic concept is very much the same. :)

    1. Bev if you leave out the chili pepper and cut the cayenne in half the dish will be quite mild. The bell peppers and poblano/anaheim pepper are very mild and not spicy.

    2. Karen really? I’ve cooked with both over the years and they’ve never been more than moderately hot. Perhaps I’m less sensitive to the heat? Here is a pepper chart with heat scale, both are described as mild to moderate: link to missvickie.com I guess it’s a good idea to taste before adding to the mix… if it seems too hot for your taste, add less or omit.

  1. Hi Tori,
    Two questions: since I’m expecting 30 people, can I make this in a large rectangular Corning ware? Also, can I fully make this on Saturday and just reheat it on Monday? How long would that take? Thanks!

    1. Hi Barbara– do you mean a 9×13 glass or ceramic dish? As for making ahead, technically you can, though I would worry that the vegetables might get a bit mushy for my taste. Is there any way you can assemble and bake it on Monday? That would be preferable. I’m not sure how long it would take to reheat, it would depend on the size dish you use. If it’s a 9×13 I’d guess around 20-30 minutes in a 250 degree oven if you’re popping it in straight from the refrigerator.

  2. Thanks Tori!
    My Corning ware is ceramic and about 11×13 “ish”. I’ll take your advise and cook it on Monday. Should I make more sauce because the dish is larger? Should it be served hot? Thanks for taking the time to answer!

    1. Hi Barbara– I actually think you can double this recipe for a dish that large. You may not need to double the veggies on half (though you might need 1 1/2 times as many), but the sauce will certainly need to be increased. Yes, it should be served hot. Enjoy!

    1. Great idea Bev. You could actually double the amount of mushrooms; I might try that next time to give it a more meaty texture. After reading another reader’s comment re: anaheim and poblano peppers, I suggest you taste the pepper before adding it to the mix. The ones I’ve cooked with have always been quite mild, but apparently the heat can vary quite a bit from pepper to pepper… and of course, I am less sensitive to the heat than some people are. I do love my spice! Best to taste and use your best judgement after determining the heat level of your pepper, adding less or omitting it entirely if you feel it will be too spicy.

  3. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi Tori, this recipe is fantastic with the addition of mushrooms! I’ve been making another ratatouille recipe for the last couple of years, but this recipe, although a bit more complicated, is so much more substantial and worth the extra work! I served it with freekeh and a bit of goat cheese on top (I already had on hand.). I felt like Remy must have as I awaited my husband’s review! Thank you, it was a success.

  4. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Hi, Ratatouille recipe sounds great, slightly different then my usual take, more peppers, which is fine with my family !
    However, am I just missing it ? But I can’t see the “Cauliflour Couscous” … You say it’s not actually cous cous, but mashed up cauliflour. Wanted to make most of it tonight, so in hurry to hit the stores before too late. Is it there and i’m just missing it ?

    Thanks very much – Whole meal sounds great – Vegetarians so interested in trying the soup as well!

  5. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    I made this dish for the first night seder. It came out fantastic and everyone loved it. It’s definitely time and labor intensive. The colors in the dish, the aroma, the taste – all were great! Prep as much as you can one day before. I followed the recipe exactly and have a ton of leftover veggies. I plan on making a Passover vegetable lasagna with them :)

  6. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Thanks for a great veggie option for passover! I have to admit that I took a shortcut and used Trader Joes fire-roasted tomatoes with peppers rather than tomatoes and roasting peppers. I had tons of veggies leftover after doing the top; half as many would have worked. We just served with baked potatoes, roasted asparagus and a salad for the main meal. I will do this again!

    1. Glad you liked it Ithacabelle! Shortcuts are great in recipes like this, no shame in using pre-roasted. This is the second note I’ve received about having leftover veggies on the top; I will test it again soon to see if I need to cut back on the amount called for. Thanks for writing!

  7. Excellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 starsExcellent - 5 stars
    Passover is now passed over, but I made the recipe tonight, along with couscous to soak up the copious juices. Delicious, and not too spicy (for me, anyways). My family was wowed by the presentation and flavours. Was I supposed to use regular tomatoes (not Roma) in the base, as it was very watery, even after simmering? Still delicious, though, and I’ve made many versions of ratatouille over the years. Keep ‘em coming! Wish I could send you a photo of my finished dish!

    1. Marcy I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Yes, I used vine ripened tomatoes in the sauce and Romas for the topping, which may have been the reason your sauce was more watery. Next time try vine ripened, or simmer it longer to reduce and thicken the sauce before adding the topping.

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