My Grilled Ratatouille is a gorgeous roasted vegetable dish that packs a ton of flavor. Seasonal vegetables are layered on top of rich tomato sauce, seasoned with garlic and herbs, and roasted in the grill for a bright summer side (or main course!) This post is sponsored by Grill Mates.
What is Ratatouille?
Ratatouille is a traditional French vegetable casserole basically comprised of seasonal vegetables, tomato sauce, and garlic. There are as many variations of this recipe as there are types of summer vegetables. The most common combination is zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes, and eggplant. My family won’t touch eggplant with a 10 foot pole, so I substituted with peeled sweet potatoes.
There are rustic versions of ratatouille with the vegetables roughly chopped and all mixed together. I went a little higher in the effort department on this dish because I just think that the sliced vegetables all layered together made the most beautiful presentation. It looks like work, but from start to finish the whole thing took about 20 minutes because I shaved off some time by using store bought marinara sauce. If you wanted to go all out, you could make and use my homemade smoke roasted garden tomato sauce or meet in the middle with McCormick’s Thick and Zesty Spaghetti Sauce Mix. Either would be absolutely out of this world delicious!!
One of the most important components of a good ratatouille is using garlic to season. I used the Roasted Garlic and Herb seasoning blend from McCormick to sprinkle liberally all over the top of my beautifully arranged vegetables. This blend uses large chunks of dehydrated garlic and herbs with the perfect mix of zesty seasonings, so as the grilled ratatouille simmered and roasted in the grill, the spices soaked up the braising liquid and perfectly seasoned the vegetables.
I prefer to do most of my cooking outside, especially in the warm summer months when I really don’t want to be heating up my oven by baking in the kitchen. This recipe for Grilled Ratatouille was specifically developed for cooking on the grill, but you’ll need to know a few special tips for it to turn out better than oven-baked.
The first step for cooking a traditional ratatouille is a low and slow baking process to soften and almost stew the vegetables. I do this process in my smoker set at 225 degrees because it allows me to use indirect heat with just an extra hint of that smoky flavor that makes those veggies sing!
If you don’t have a smoker, you can achieve a similar result by using two-zone cooking on your gas or charcoal grill. Simply turn on the burners or arrange your hot coals only on one side of your grill, leaving the other side of your grill without any heat. You’ve got your direct, high heat zone, and your indirect grilling zone. You’re ready to go!
Braise the ratatouille slowly over indirect heat for about 2 hours, then you can either increase the heat in your smoker to 375 degrees F or move your ratatouille over to the direct heat side of your grill and roast for an additional 30-45 minutes to caramelize the edges of your vegetables. I like to let my ratatouille rest for 30-45 minutes at room temperature before dishing up and serving with a sprinkle of fresh basil.
Notes on How to Make Ratatouille
I’ve got a few bonus tips and tricks to make your ratatouille a success.
*Use a SUPER sharp knife to slice your vegetables evenly. If you want to keep them even more uniform consider using a mandolin (just watch those fingers!)
*This recipe uses a 12 inch cast iron skillet because of its ease in transitioning from low temperatures to high temperatures to the perfect serving vessel. Also, because it won’t get tarnished or dirty from being in my smoker or grill. Many people express concern that the acid in tomato sauce will strip the seasoning from cast iron pans. My pans are well loved and seasoned and I’ve never had an issue with them losing seasoning making this recipe. I always wash my pans with hot water and use a scrub brush to get off any stuck on debris. Very rarely do I use soap. Then I dry on my stove top over medium heat. While the pan in still hot, wipe the interior down with 1-2 teaspoons of cooking oil and a paper towel. Voila! Like new!
*You can adapt this recipe for oven cooking! Follow the recipe as written with the time and temperature guidelines. Start in your preheated oven at the lower temperature, then just increase the heat for the last step. Don’t worry about taking your ratatouille out of the oven while the heat increases.
*If you’re using a smoker for the first step (bravo!), I recommend using a mild wood like alder or pecan for this dish. Not too sweet or fruity, but not overwhelming like maybe a oak or hickory would be. The vegetables are quite porous and they will take on a bit of smoke flavor.
*Make ahead! This recipe is amazing when it is made a day in advance. You can either serve cold (I like to mix with chilled cooked pasta for an awesome picnic pasta salad) or reheat the next day at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. This can be served as a side dish with a nice grilled steak, or as a main course when paired with cooked rice, polenta, or pasta.
Grilled Ratatouille Recipe
- 2 medium zucchini (sliced into thin rounds)
- 2 medium yellow squash (sliced into thin rounds)
- 2 small sweet potatoes (peeled and sliced into thin rounds)
- 5 roma tomatoes (sliced into thin rounds)
- 4 cups marinara sauce (Link to my homemade version in the recipe notes)
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon Grill Mate's Roasted Garlic and Herb Seasoning
- 2 Tablespoons fresh basil (chiffonade, as garnish)
- Preheat your grill or smoker to 225 degrees F for indirect or two-zone grilling.
- Remove the tops and ends of your vegetables, peel your sweet potatoes and get to slicing! Slice your vegetables into thin rounds, keeping the thickness as even as possible for all of your vegetables.
- Pour your marinara sauce in the bottom of a 12 inch cast iron skillet. Smooth out with the back side of a spoon or spatula.
- Arrange the vegetables in a repeating pattern of tomato, sweet potato, yellow squash, zucchini, on top of the sauce. I like to start on the outside edge of the pan and gently nestle the vegetables rounds into the sauce at a slight angle. Once you've completed one full circle around the outside edge of the pan, repeat with the second round, laying the vegetables down in the opposite direction. Once that circle is completed, arrange the final row in the middle of the pan and nestle a few additional pieces of vegetables around the middle row to fill in the empty spaces.
- Drizzle the top of the vegetables with the olive oil and sprinkle evenly with the Grill Mates Roasted Garlic and Herb seasoning.
- Place your skillet in your grill or smoker over indirect heat. Close the lid and cook for 2 hours. This will allow the vegetables to get nice and tender while picking up great flavor from the grill.
- Increase the heat in your smoker to 375 degrees F, or if using a grill, slide your pan over to the direct heat side of your grill. This next step will take 30-45 minutes in a smoker, or it could go a little faster if you're using direct heat. Just keep an eye on the sauce in your pan to make sure it doesn't burn as the top of the vegetables are starting to caramelize.
- Remove from the grill and let the ratatouille sit for 10 minutes or so. Garnish with fresh basil before serving.