Ratatouille is more than just an entertaining Disney movie (even though my mind immediately went to Remy and Chef Alfredo Linguini). It is a summer vegetable stew popular in French cuisine.
Originating as a French Provencal dish from Nice, the stew blends together zucchini, red bell pepper, fresh tomatoes, and eggplant, mixed with different herbs and spices. Onion and garlic are also thrown in there for taste.
The Coast of Provence, France is on the Mediterranean Sea. With a climate similar to California’s, vegetables used for ratatouille are available for many months due to its extended growing season.
This signature French dish started out as peasant food and progressed into a delicacy. Many chefs transform it into their own creative preparation style. Aside from the mix of ingredients, the fresh vegetables can be cut into different sizes such as chunks, thin and thick slices, or strips. Although the look of it may be different, the ultimate end goal is for the flavors to pop and harmonize together in a stew.
Now that we know what ratatouille is, we can figure out what to serve with this vegetable dish.
What to Serve with Ratatouille?
Ratatouille can be a main dish or a side dish, so there are so many options to choose from when pairing your foods.
Typically, French cooking is associated with refined, complicated techniques and rich, well-prepared sauces. These all can pair nicely with the simplicity and comfort of ratatouille.
This vegetable stew tends to be mushy in texture, so you may want to pair it with a food opposite in texture. Something firmer, denser. Great carnivore foods can include different types of beef like filet or flank steak. Pork chops and tenderloins also go very nicely. These options are juicy and tender…and let’s be honest, a good piece of meat always needs a vegetable.
Other potential pairings that complement the flavors of ratatouille can be any simple starch or grain such as brown rice, barley, or pasta. Speaking of carbs, adding a type of crusty bread like french bread or boule can create a great unison.
P.S – after an easy ratatouille recipe? Check out this one from BBC Good Food packed full of fresh vegetables.
Best Sides to Serve with Ratatouille
We know there are quite a few options of food to choose from when pairing your ratatouille, so we’ve narrowed down just some of the clever side dishes you might want to try out (you’re welcome in advance).
Mushroom Rice Pilaf
Rice is a solid option when deciding on a side dish because it’s a denser food when dealing with the mushy texture of ratatouille. This hearty side dish is what I call a classier version of rice. You can use butter, garlic, and a little bit of sherry to get the pilaf texture just right. I’ll let you choose your favorite mushrooms, as any would blend in nicely.
It might sound like a weird combination, but it works.
Grits is a solid grain that would mix in well with the texture of ratatouille. And cheese…well, cheese just makes everything better. Blend in the French roots with some gruyere and throw in some parmesan cheese and cheddar into the buttery grits and you’ve got yourself a masterpiece.
Why not add more vegetables to your diet?
Earthy cauliflower pairs nicely with the bright, bold, and savory flavors of the summer and fall vegetables, and it can be a replacement for starchy rice for a healthier option. Now think about the ratatouille laying over a bed of cauliflower rice. It’s beautiful.
Risotto is a beautifully dense version of rice. It’s creamy and packed with flavor, giving off a sense of comfort food.
The flavors of the ratatouille will sink into the risotto and create this punch of flavor all in one bite. Add flavors such as butternut squash to the risotto to enjoy it even more.
When I think of egg noodles, I usually envision putting them in my chicken soup. However, egg noodles are an incredible pasta for picking up even the most subtle of flavors. The texture of the noodles is soft but dense to make sure it picks up the ratatouille for one incredible bite.
Forget about traditional toasted french bread (although you can never go wrong with a slice of it). Cornbread is a unique type of bread that pairs well with the flavors of ratatouille. The slightly sweet flavor of the cornbread that’s also a bit savory will have the essences melt in your mouth.
Best Desserts to Serve After Ratatouille
Now that you’ve had the most incredible savory flavors accompanied by the best side dishes, it’s time for something sweet. Let’s be real, there’s always room for dessert. Let’s make sure your something sweet is a perfect ending to your ratatouille dish.
I bet you’re thinking…what in the world is that? It’s a play on the style of ratatouille, but with fruit. How clever is that?
This is a new take on a fruit tart, and it’s best to get fruits that are available all-year-round. For example, cantaloupes, mangoes, and kiwis. You can also vary depending on the season, such as peaches and strawberries in the summer and apples and pairs in the winter.
You can align the crust as a base in a similar pan you’d use for making ratatouille, and then once cooked, place the fruits along the crust in your own pattern, making it look like the sweet version of the savory dish.
This is one of the most famous French desserts, so it’s only fitting you eat this after your French stew. Crème Brulé is a custard-based dessert that’s topped with a layer of crunch caramel (usually torched). It’s just the right amount of sweet that’ll satisfy that dessert craving after an amazing savory dinner.
Pears a la Medocaine
If you’re not the most skillful baker, this is a fairly easy dessert that is a nice after-dinner finish.
Start by making red wine syrup and let the pears soak in them. Have the pears refrigerate for 24 hours and then voila! You have your dessert. It’s not too sweet thanks to the dry red wine, but depending on the wine, you can always go sweeter. It’s also important to choose a wine that you would enjoy drinking, or else you won’t enjoy the pears. (We will be getting to the wine and ratatouille pairing shortly!)
Cornbread is just so versatile; it can be used as a side dish and a dessert.
If you have leftover cornbread from eating it with your ratatouille, why not finish it off for dessert? Cornbread tastes amazing toasted and with butter. You can also top it with jam for some extra sweetness.
Best Wine to Serve with Ratatouille
Now that we’ve talked about what to serve with the ratatouille and after it, it’s now time to share the most important part; what to drink with it. Of course, you can drink whatever you’d like, but there’s something to be said about pairing this classic French dish with a nice glass of wine. In fact, in France, you’re most likely going to be drinking wine with this wish and you might be judged if you’re not drinking wine…just saying.
A shiraz wine, whether it be French, Argentinian, or Australian, is a great pairing for bold, flavorful, and savory dishes. It has enough body and power to cut through the herby, tomato flavor, and texture of the vegetables.
Rioja wines from Spain also work well, as the Tempranillo grape helps create a balanced red with modest tannins and fresh acidity.
An Italian Chianti could also work, as would a Syrah from the Rhone valley if you want to keep it local. However, if you have a full-bodied red such as an old Bordeaux, then that would also be a good option.
Basically, if you take anything from this, you’re going to want to pair ratatouille with some sort of red wine as opposed to white wine.