Ratatouille for Picky Kids

Apr 18, 2009 by

Ratatouille In France, ratatouille is one of those standard dishes that just about everybody is familiar with and has had at home some time or other.  Its equivalent in America might be meatloaf or macaroni and cheese, or hamburgers.

As with meatloaf, there are endless variations and preferred ways to fix this Mediterranean- style summer vegetable stew. The foundational ingredients of a ratatouille are eggplants, zucchini and tomatoes.

It’s great served with plain couscous (a coarsely ground semolina pasta, a staple of North African cooking, which is ready to eat in minutes. Kids love it), or plain meat or fish.

The best ratatouille I’ve ever tried actually comes from a Texas cookbook: Fredericksburg’s Peach Tree Tea Room Cookbook by Cynthia Pedregon.  I think what makes it so special are the black olives and the white wine (yes, even for kids. The alcohol cooks off). It’s even better not right out of the oven, but warm, or best of all, warmed up the next day. It has a rather long list of ingredients and does require a little chopping but is completely fool proof, requiring no precise measuring or tricky techniques.  It makes enough for two meals for a family of four. At least it used to, before my kids got so big and ravenous. It’s supposed to serve ten.  I find myself using more and more generous amounts for it, though. A double recipe would give me a couple of meals to put in the freezer for later.

How to get your picky child to eat ratatouille? If she saw the movie about the rat, that might be a nice point of introduction.

Otherwise, follow these directions precisely, with no variation. Make sure she doesn’t eat anything for at least a couple of hours (depending on age).  Preferably after playing outside for awhile, let her come into the kitchen for dinner (with no other food in sight), contrive to let her catch a whiff while showing no interest in her eating it and nonchalantly wait until she asks for some. Refrain from any attempts to get her to try it.

½ C olive oil

4 C peeled and cubed eggplant

4 C sliced or cubed zucchini

½ C green pepper strips

½ C red pepper strips

½ C sliced or chopped onion

2 T minced garlic

½ C white wine

4 C chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned

1 t thyme

1 t rosemary

1 t basil

4 bay leaves

1 T salt

1 t pepper

1 C black olives (kalamatas are the best), cut in halves

1/c C chopped parsley

1.  In a large skillet or pot, sauté eggplant and zucchini in olive oil for 8 minutes

2. Add red and green peppers, onion and garlic. Sauté for six minutes.

3. Add remaining ingredients, except the parsley. Place in oven-proof dish and bake in a pre-heated 350

oven for 45 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley.

Related Post:

Ratatouille: Everybody Can Cook


  1. […] the first time he managed to make ratatouille (a truly fabulous dish that anybody can make: http://sacredappetite.wordpress.com/2009/04/18/ratatouille-for-picky-kids/) or some other simple […]