If we were to round up an all-star team of summer's greatest produce, it'd look a little something like ratatouille: Eggplant and zucchini. The gang's all here! By cooking them until they're caramelized and just starting to fall apart, you'll get a jammy sauce that's practically begging to be mixed into pasta and turned into a spectacular vegetarian dinner. Capers add a briny punch, Parmesan provides much-needed salt, and lemon juice brightens everything up. And if pasta's not in your cards, just stop before you boil the noodles and serve the ratatouille alongside salad or slow-roasted fish.
Cut 1 large or 2 medium Italian eggplants into ½" pieces. Transfer to a colander set over a medium bowl and sprinkle with 2 tsp. salt. Let sit 30 minutes. Your eggplant might start to discolor and should start to release some brownish liquid that will fall into the bowl below. That’s good! It’s losing excess moisture that would prevent it from getting silky-soft.
Meanwhile, cut 1 large or 2 small red bell peppers and 1 large zucchini into ½" pieces. Transfer to a medium bowl. Peel 2 medium onions, cut through root end, then slice through root end into thin slivers. Transfer to bowl with bell peppers. Halve 1 pint cherry tomatoes (the fastest—but dorkiest—way to do this is to sandwich them between two quart container lids) and transfer to a small bowl. Smash 4 garlic cloves, then coarsely chop and add to bowl with tomatoes. Slice 1 lemon in half; set aside. Finely grate 1½ oz. Parmesan with a Microplane or the small holes of a box grater into another small bowl.
Your eggplant needs special treatment: Cooking it separately guarantees that you can make it tender and golden (rather than chewy and gray) without over-cooking it or causing the other veg to get soggy. When eggplant has been sitting 30 minutes (okay, 25 if you’re antsy), gently squeeze it to get rid of any more moisture (less moisture means more browning). No need to go crazy, though.
Heat 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over high until shimmering. Once hot (test with one piece for starters!), add half of eggplant and stir to coat in oil. Cook, stirring every 3 minutes or so (you want to leave it undisturbed while also making sure lots of pieces get their time against the hot pan), until eggplant is golden, with some pieces starting to brown and char, 5–7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium if eggplant is browning too quickly. Using a slotted spoon or fish spatula, transfer to a plate. If any eggplant pieces stick, just scrape them up—no biggie. Heat 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin oil over high. Cook remaining eggplant using same process, 5–7 minutes. Transfer to plate with cooked eggplant.
Scrape off any bits of eggplant from pot if needed (no need to wipe out). Heat ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil over medium-high. Add ¼ cup capers and ½ tsp. red pepper flakes (don’t be alarmed if capers sputter and foam—it’s because they’re wet!). Cook, stirring, until bubbling subsides, 30–60 seconds.
Add onion-pepper mixture, season with 1½ tsp. salt, and cook, stirring frequently, scraping bottom of pan, and reducing heat if vegetables are getting too brown, until vegetables are softened, slumped, and have started to take on lots of color, 12–15 minutes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of generously salted water to a boil (this is for your pasta).
Add tomato-garlic mixture to sauce, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until almost all tomatoes have burst and vegetables are starting to break down and deeply caramelize, about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it and reduce heat if veg is getting too dark for your liking.
Finish the sauce: Return eggplant to pot and cook until vegetables are tender but the vegetable pieces are still distinct (you don't want total mush), about 5 more minutes. Taste and season with salt.
Add pasta to boiling water right after you add the eggplant, stirring occasionally, until al dente. Before draining, scoop out 1 cup pasta cooking liquid with a liquid measuring cup.
Now the exciting part: Ratatouille and pasta join forces as one. Reduce heat over sauce to low. Add drained pasta and stir to coat in sauce. Add 1 cup Parmesan, pour ½ cup pasta cooking liquid over, then stir vigorously with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until a creamy sauce forms with no clumps of cheese. Add more pasta cooking liquid as necessary if pasta starts to stiffen. Remove from heat. Squeeze juice from ½ lemon over, then stir in 1½ cups basil. Taste for salt and lemon juice.
Divide pasta among bowls. Top with cheese, basil, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle with oil. Don’t be sad if you can’t finish it all: It’s even better as cold leftovers.
Reviews SectionThe pasta is good. The writing and the breakout/organization of this recipe is some of the worst I've ever seen. Can Bon Appetit afford copyeditors or only telegenic white people?AnonymousRhode Island08/01/20This may be my favorite recipe Bon Appetit has ever put out--so delicious! The cooking instructions for the eggplant are so proficient and easy. I love the taste of all of these fresh vegetables together, such a great texture. The basil and lemon there at the end are a great touch, don't skip it.heyguysitsmerobNorth Carolina06/02/20This recipe absolutely SLAPS. It's so so so good and makes huge servings- I would say 6-8 servings unless everyone is super hungry. But it's almost even better the next day!paigepoeHouston, TX05/28/20I have never cooked eggplant before and I was a bit nervous but the instructions were perfect! The end result was absolutely delicious - I've never been so proud of myself before lmao.AnonymousNew York USA05/20/20This recipe was amazing! I added a bit of tomato puree for some extra flavour.Amazing dish! The pasta water and the parmesan transforms the jammy vegetables into a luscious sauce. The highlight were the zucchinis and the eggplant! Was a hit with the girlfriend will make again.AnonymousLos Angeles03/05/20Does it take a little extra time than most basically recipes? Yes, but all great things take time and you can feed an entire family. This blew me away with rich and silky flavors. You'll be holding yourself back from eating 3 servings. If you're like me and like spice, add a little extra red pepper as a finish. I'll definitely be making this again and recommending it to all of my friends and family.Erik obrienChicago, IL01/08/20Fabulous flavor and I learned how to salt an eggplant! I love this recipe. It’s one of my all-time faves.AnonymousWashington State12/31/19This is one of my favorite pasta recipes I have come across (here or anywhere) and I cook a lot of pasta! I got easily 8 servings out of this and was stuffed every time. The prep time this requires is totally worth it.AnonymousIndiana, USA11/19/19This took way more time than I'd expect from a Basically recipe, but it was definetly worth it!It's a meal that'd be better prepared with two people since there's so much chopping & adding.For people who thought it has too much salt- remember that BA uses Diamond Crystal kosher salt, which is half as salty as Morton- therefore if you're using Morton salt- you need to half the amount of salt. (BA really should distinguish this in each recipe).I made the recipe as-is and it was delicious. I'm thinking next time of adding some browned Italian sausage to compliment the flavors.AnonymousChicago, IL10/08/19So incredible! So flavorful, the hardest part was chopping veg and even that was pretty quick. Absolutely delicious, can't wait to make again!A little bit time-consuming, but absolutely worth it, and really straightforward. I didn't have capers, but it was restaurant-tasty even without. My only suggestion would be to dial back on the salt.AnonymousNottingham, UK09/04/19This recipe was fabulous. Time consuming to chop all the veggies but not difficult for a fairly novice chef. I can't wait to make it again!hbadgerWashington, DC08/31/19I'm about to make this, but no way is 1 1/2 oz. of Parmesan going to produce the full cup the recipe calls for in the instructions, let alone the more you add at serving. Looks soooo good, tho', we're gonna try it.AnonymousBerkeley, CA08/23/19really good. i halved the recipe and used kalamata olives instead of capers. i really loved it.Omg! Sooo delicious!! Worth all the time it took to make!AnonymousPhiladelphia 08/18/19Delicious summer main dish. I used yellow summer squash. Had leftovers so the next night I turned this into a lovely pasta salad by adding a small amount of red wine vinaigrette, chopped parsley, additional cherry tomatoes and a bit more parm...also delicious.This was fantastic--one of the best veggie pastas we've had. Used about 12 oz of rotini (what I had on hand) and added a bit of spinach and leftover corn. Everyone devoured it. This is going into our regular rotation.Margaret EckmanSwampscott, MA08/14/19This was tremendous! A couple of suggestions, though: do not skimp on the eggplant -- we could have used more -- but more importantly, saute the eggplant in a separate pan*after* you saute the onion, peppers, and zucchini. Leaving it on counter while the rest of the veg cooks causes it to become a bit mushy and loose its shape. I'd also add more tomato. Finally, be careful of how much pasta you add. If you don't have enough veg, you run the risk having too much pasta for what you add to it.Overall, this recipe knocks it out of the park!AnonymousClinton, CT08/13/19Made this last night. It was a hit, even with my 2 and 4 year old. Though, I did pick out the basil for them. We didn't have capers but even without it was great.ElizziebethDenver, CO08/13/19Made this last night to try to get myself to start liking tomatoes and eggplant - and it worked! The capers give the sauce a wonderful flavor, and it's a great pasta dish to enjoy even on a hot summer night.AnonymousCovington, KY08/13/19I was happy to find this recipe in my inbox this morning. I have an abundance of veg from my CSA, so the timing was perfect. It didn’t disappoint ... delicious! My 20-something kids loved it as well.AnonymousSt. Paul, MN08/11/19
Watch the video: Ratatouille Pasta. Naturally Sassy