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"Welcome to my Italian kitchen!" says Rach. "Today, I thought I would show you all a meal I make with ingredients straight from my garden. It's budget friendly—and who doesn't need that now?—and you make it all in one skillet!" It's a baked skillet ratatouille with eggplant and zucchini topped with hot pepper-spiked pesto. Don't be put off by the number of ingredients and steps. The dish comes together quickly and you can even make the components in advance. Serve with charred crusty bread. 

For more from our season 17 premiere, check out Rach's Italy house tourgarden tour and her favorite spots in Tuscany.


For the Base Sauce:
  • 3 tablespoons EVOO
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 sweet peppers, red or mixed colors, seeded and chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • About 2 tablespoons rosemary, chopped
  • About 1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds ripe fresh tomatoes, peeled, cored and chopped, or one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
For the Eggplant and Zucchini:
  • 4 small firm round/globe eggplant or large not-too-fat firm eggplant (not Japanese or baby), thinly sliced
  • Salt
  • 3 to 4 small to medium firm zucchini (try to match size relationship to your eggplant), thinly sliced
  • Pepper
  • 3 to 4 fresh tomatoes, sliced
  • Basil leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • ½ cup EVOO (this will be divided between the vegetables and the pesto)
For the Pesto:
  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • About ¼ cup garlic oil (from the eggplant and zucchini)
  • ½ cup toasted pistachios and/or pine nuts
  • 1 small hot green pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice, to taste


Serves: 4


Preheat oven to 400°F.

Premium RUST-RESISTANT™ Cast Iron Skillet

Premium RUST-RESISTANT™ Cast Iron Skillet

Rachael Ray

For the base sauce, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat with the EVOO. Add the onions, peppers, salt and pepper and soften a few minutes. Add herbs, garlic and tomatoes, stir and cook until tomatoes collapse, about 15 minutes.  

For the vegetables, salt the eggplant and drain on towel a few minutes. Season zucchini with salt and pepper.    

Arrange the eggplant, zucchini, sliced raw tomatoes and basil in concentric circles over the sauce. In another skillet, heat the garlic and oil over low heat to infuse the flavor of the garlic into the oil. Brush the vegetables with the oil, reserving half. Bake 30 to 40 minutes.  

For the pesto, place the basil in a food processor with the remaining half of the garlic oil, toasted nuts, hot peppers and grated Parm. Pulse-process to form pesto, then pulse in salt and lemon juice to your liking. 

Top the ratatouille with a swirl of pesto.