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Olive oil (Recipe: ratatouille) {vegetarian, gluten-free}


One handy thing to know about olive oil:

Though extra-virgin olive oil is the most delicate, it is not the most refined. That honor goes to oils marked, simply, olive oil. Extra-virgin oil is also not, as some thirty-minute cooks would have you believe, an all-purpose oil for cooking. For dressing a salad, yes, the delicate flavor of extra-virgin oil is what you want, but for cooking, choose virgin or olive oil (Trader Joe's sells the oil I use for cooking). The smoke point of these oils is higher and the flavor is more neutral, making them excellent, heart-healthy cooking oils. And the price point is lower, making them a budget-friendly choice, too.

Cooking or baking?
Cooking and baking (don't forget about olive oil cakes, breads and crackers).

Keep oils at room temperature (away from heat) in your cupboard for up to two years. In humid climates, you might want to store oil in the refrigerator; the oil might get a bit cloudy, but it will return to its original viscosity when left at room temperature.

Pantry ingredients in this recipe:
Olive oil (more facts and ingredient photo)
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Tomato paste
Thyme leaf



The only thing all cooks agree on is how to pronounce the name of this dish (rat-a-TOO-eee). About proportions, ingredients, and cooking method, there are probably not two cooks who think the same way. The outcome, though, is undeniably delicious and versatile. Use ratatouille as a side dish, as a filling for omelets or a topping for baked potatoes or bruschetta. Add shrimp or shredded chicken. Change up the amounts according to your own taste. More eggplant? Sure. More zucchini? Why not? Serves 6.


3 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and diced
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp dried thyme leaf
2 Tbsp dried oregano
12 small new potatoes, diced
2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed, diced
1 large Japanese eggplant, ends trimmed, diced
2 medium tomatoes, cored and diced
6 large white mushrooms, ends trimmed, roughly chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
1-2 Tbsp tomato paste
6-10 large basil leaves, roughly torn
1 tsp sugar (optional)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese


In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, and sauté for 2-3 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic, thyme and oregano, and cook, stirring, for one minute. Add the potatoes, zucchini and eggplant; stir everything together, and cover the pot. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3-4 minutes, until the eggplant and zucchini have begun to soften (this is called "sweating" the vegetables). Add the tomatoes and mushrooms, the wine and tomato paste. Stir everything together.

Cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are soft enough to be smashed against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon. Break up some of the potatoes, and leave some in chunks. Stir the stew to incorporate the smashed potatoes. Add basil, sugar, salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the cheese.

Serve hot, at room temperature, or cold.

[Printer-friendly recipe.]

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:
Thyme-roasted new potatoes
Sicilian style spaghetti
Caesar salad with shrimp
Oven-baked tortilla Española
Chicken stuffed with ricotta

Other recipes that use olive oil:
Rosemary olive oil cake, from 101 Cookbooks
Eggs fried in olive oil with wilted greens and sumac, from Kalyn's Kitchen
Olive oil cake with fennel pollen, from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Gluten-free crackers, from Gluten-Free Goddess
Spicy lamb stew, from Simply Recipes

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


Olive oil is my friend. I would love to visit a grove in California and see how it is done.

LOL I like your subtle reference!! I think folks who have spare $ use EVOO all the time. But I personally think spare $ or no spare $ it is a waste of good product to use EVOO to "cook" with. I use olive or even canola to cook with and save the flavorful good stuff for salads and "finishing" drizzles.
(just one humble cook's opinion)

I've made a bunch of ratatouille in the pressure cooker this season. I love the addition of potatoes, mushrooms and the touch of dry white wine for added flavor.

Anything with Olive Oil is better - I just love the flavor.

Your ratatouille looks delicious! I don't know why I don't make it more often.

I don't know what I'd do without olive oil. I use two kinds: California organic olive oil for cooking and California organic x-virgin for just about everything else. Your ratatouille is beautiful!

Val, wouldn't that be fun? Maybe a trip to Italy, too?

Carol, it's really not about the money as much as it is about using the right oil for the right type of cooking. But it's nice that a less-expensive product is actually a better one for cooking!

TW, yet another reason I must get over my fear of pressure cookers.

LB, I agree.

Kalyn, honestly I haven't made ratatouille for several years, and this reminded me of how delicious and versatile it is.

Christine, so lucky to have access to those wonderful California olive oils. They're very expensive here on the East Coast.

Great stuff! I keep learning new things every time I come back to your blog.

I get an imported extra virgin olive oil (Paesanol) that has such a fantastic flavor that I can't use anything else. Since I don't cook at high heat, I don't have to worry about smoking point and such. I even used to use it on popcorn before I got allergic to corn. I don't want a neutral flavor in my oil, which is why I can't stand canola oil. Since I cook almost everything from scratch, I put my money on the flavors I want to eat.

Olive oil is a staple in our kitchen. I always make sure to have a couple of different kinds on hand - the cheaper version for cooking and a really good, fruity olive oil for drizzling. Beautiful ratatouille!

"Extra-virgin oil is also not, as some thirty-minute cooks would have you believe, an all-purpose oil for cooking. For dressing a salad, yes, the delicate flavor of extra-virgin oil is what you want, but for cooking, choose virgin or olive oil."

THANK YOU! That is one of my pet peeves of, uh, thirty minute cooks. I think thirty minute cooks have a lot of good recipes and info, actually, I really do, but the EVOO on and in EVERYTHING drives me nuts.

Phew, got that outta my system!

Delicious-looking ratatouille recipe, there!

Yesterday's NYT has a very interesting article about growing olives in Georgia, where they have just pressed their first trial run of oil. Also mentions Texas as a domestic oil producer. In about 10 years, let's organize an "Olive oils of the Americas" tour!

This summer I've made roasted ratatouile about 3 times! It is a good topping for pasta or chopped up a little smaller after cooking to put on a pizza.

Oops: the article is in the Washington Post.

Great way to use up some end-of-summer veggies.

I wonder whether RR has ever tasted real EVOO, or she just goes with whatever is on the shelf at the store, which may not be real EVOO.

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