Who doesn’t like a hassle-free, all-expenses-paid vacation to the South of France? Sunshine, palm trees, warm coastal breezes, and food to awaken your senses. It is possible. With the right recipes and just a few ingredients, you can take your whole family. And the perfect dish to transport you is ratatouille.
Ratatouille is the classic dish of southern France. Served as a side dish, hot or cold, arranged in a casserole or individual plates, it’s a recipe that lends itself to many different main dishes. With succulent eggplants, ripe bell peppers, and sweet tomatoes, ratatouille evokes summertime and is the dish for relaxing entertaining in one harmonious blend.
But ratatouille can be a challenging dish to pair with meat because the rich and luxurious flavors come from the freshness of the vegetables. There are, however, many types of meat that would not compete with ratatouille and keep the meal light and satisfying.
The Mediterranean region is famous for its dried, cured meats, and these would make a perfect meat board. Lamb, another regional delicacy, when prepared with fresh herbs, would enhance the flavors of this Provencal dish. Grilled and seasoned sausages would be both quick and delicious.
Beef, either grilled on skewers or formed into meatballs, makes a ratatouille meal enjoyable for the whole family. Or serve meat-filled ravioli with pesto or light butter sauce.
If you would prefer lighter meat, then gently seasoned pork tenderloin can be grilled or roasted. And you can form meatballs from ground turkey and ground chicken. A salad of spicy arugula topped with herb-roasted chicken and brined olives would keep the Mediterranean feel and flavors together.
For a little extra protein, you can put any of the above meats over a serving of lentils.
If you’re looking for a tasty side to complement your meal, my favorite choices are crusty baguettes, fried polenta, or roasted flatbreads. But leave room for dessert, and a traditional summertime fruit dessert is perfect.
- 8 Best Meats To Serve With Ratatouille
- Lentils-Vegan Friendly Option
- Eggs-Non-Meat Option
- Top Side Dishes For Ratatouille
- Best Desserts
- What Is Ratatouille?
- Final Words
- Related Guides
8 Best Meats To Serve With Ratatouille
And the best way to put this is sunshine on a plate is to serve ingredients that grow together. For inspiration for a ratatouille meal, I think of the Mediterranean. In the South of France, you’ll find ratatouille is traditionally paired with fish, especially calamari. But for those who would prefer a non-seafood option, there are plenty of delicious choices.
The Mediterranean is famous for its cured meats, and it’s easier now than ever to find a wide selection at your grocery store. Just this summer, I noticed a dedicated charcuterie section in a grocery store in both upstate New York and North Carolina.
This is the time to try all those meats with interesting names and see which ones your family likes best. For starters, I would recommend a variety of flavors, such as a mild Genoa salami, a salty prosciutto, and a zesty capicola. Many people enjoy decoratively arranging these cured meats on charcuterie boards. But any platter is fine.
Lamb is a staple in the Mediterranean, and if prepared right, this would be an excellent choice for ratatouille. Ground lamb mixed with mint is a winning combination, and you can form patties or balls and serve these alongside.
Additionally, grilled seasoned lamb steaks served over the ratatouille would bring the flavors to life. The lamb only needs a little salt and pepper, and let the flavors of the ragout be the prominent flavor for the meal.
In the meat section of most grocery stores, you can find a variety of interesting sausages. Some are beef, some are pork, and others are even chicken. Look for flavors that are more Mediterranean, and try to avoid cheese and fruit-flavored sausages.
Red Meat is always a crowd-pleaser. But keeping with the light atmosphere, a whole steak would just overpower the experience. A lightly marinated, thinly sliced beef grilled on skewers would be a memorable main dish, and you can even have some basil pesto for dipping.
If you prefer ground beef, then Italian meatballs are another fast favorite. There’s no need to cook them in a red sauce; just serve them alongside the ratatouille, and the flavors will blend together easily.
Even though ratatouille originated in France, Italy has just as much love for this sun-drenched vegetable ragout. In Italy, you’ll regularly find stuffed ravioli on the menu with ratatouille. These pasta squares, filled with baked meats of all types, are a complete meal when paired with ratatouille.
For those choosing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you can find many types of meat-free ravioli. You might want to keep an eye out for butternut squash ravioli, and you can serve these with a simple olive oil sauce.
Best of all, many grocery stores carry gluten-free varieties in the refrigerated section. Recently I saw a gluten-free ravioli with spinach and mushrooms.
Pork is everywhere in the South of France and found on most restaurant menus. And choosing pork for ratatouille is more about the recipe than the cut of meat.
A tenderloin is a good choice because it’s lean and has more delicate flavors. Seasoned with just salt and pepper, then roasted or grilled, is enough to bring out the flavors of the meat. Remember, the real star of the show is the ratatouille.
Serve the pork on each plate on top of the ratatouille then each bite is a combination of these summertime flavors.
7.Ground Turkey And Ground Chicken
Many people are enjoying the tastes of these leaner meats as substitutes for their favorite ground beef recipes. If you choose ground turkey or chicken, make sure the recipe has enough herbs, like rosemary, thyme, and garlic. These leaner meats need a little flavor boost when served with ratatouille.
8.Roasted Chicken On Salad
A whole roasted chicken would get lost in the flavors of ratatouille. However, you can still make your favorite Sunday roast and still serve it.
If you thinly slice the chicken and serve it on a peppery arugula salad along with salty brined olives and maybe some capers, you have all the flavors to transport you to the Azure Coast of France. An added benefit is that if you get tight on time, you can always pick up a rotisserie chicken at your local grocery store.
Lentils-Vegan Friendly Option
For those who would like the earthy flavor of meat, and are vegan or vegetarian, try serving ratatouille atop a plate of lentils. These protein powerhouses, found in all types of Mediterranean cuisine, come in brown, yellow, and red. Try these different varieties and see which ones you like best.
And best of all, for a meal to satisfy both vegetarians and meat-eaters, you can cube any of the previously recommended meats and add them to individual ratatouille and lentil servings.
Another favorite non-meat option, and one I always look forward to the next day, is ratatouille with a sunnyside egg. For lunch or breakfast, it’s reason enough to make sure you have leftovers. The dish comes together so quickly, and the flavors of the ratatouille are always better the second day.
Top Side Dishes For Ratatouille
With all these great options for meat, you may be wondering what else to serve with ratatouille. And there are a few side dishes you may want to consider, regardless of what you’re pairing with your meal.
Serving crusty bread, polenta, or flatbread is a delicious way to scoop up the ratatouille and have your family asking for more.
Many grocery stores now have good quality baguettes, especially the take and bake versions, ones you finish baking in your own oven. Served warm, you don’t even need butter or olive oil. Just cool the freshly baked bread, slice, and spoon on ratatouille.
You can also find polenta at most grocery stores. Either premade or instant, this is a quick way to add another Mediterranean element to your meal. To fry it, slice the polenta and pan fry in olive oil until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you have a little more time, try making Pissaladière. A staple of Nicoise cooking since the 14th century, it’s a tart, or thick pizza crust brushed with olive oil, topped with halved olives, onions, and anchovies. Using pre-made pizza dough, you can create these delicious starters in just minutes and even substitute the anchovies with cured meats. Just don’t add tomato sauce or cheese.
You may want to think about a dessert for this culinary staycation.
n keeping with the Mediterranean theme, anything with lemon pairs well. Sorbet, sponge cake or even lemon meringue pie would be a perfect ending.
Fresh strawberries — strawberry pie or strawberry shortcakes are a perfect dessert pairing, preserving a light summer feel.
On the other hand, if figs are in season, fresh figs are a good choice. Leave them at room temperature, slice them in half and drizzle a little honey over these golden gems. As a result, dinner and dessert are ready in no time.
What Is Ratatouille?
Ratatouille – pronounced Ra-tuh-too-ee, is one of those dishes that is greater than the sum of its parts. Technically, it’s a vegetable ragout (stew) containing vegetables typical of the cuisine from Provence in the south of France: onions, zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers. By combining sun-drenched high-quality produce and the art of using a variety of herbs and aromas, this dish has skyrocketed to legendary status. Indeed, it’s a classic dish to highlight the importance of fresh ingredients.
Ratatouille is more than a vegetable dish; firstly, it’s a state of mind. We eat it when we want to be transported to the warm coastal waters with palm trees and fresh ocean breezes.
Though typically served with seafood, this vegetable dish can easily be served with lightly seasoned meat dishes, including cured meats, lamb, beef, and roasted chicken.
Alternatively, if your family would prefer pasta, stuffed ravioli with olive oil, butter, or pesto sauce keeps the dish light and quick. Or you can make a main course salad with chicken or serve ratatouille over lentils.
Leftovers the next day are magical, with a protein-packed egg on top. Either way, when you serve a side dish of crusty bread, the possibilities are endless.
So put on your favorite French playlist and get in that Mediterranean spirit. And when you conclude the evening dreaming of sunshine, and sailboats, indulge in a few Mediterranean desserts. Everyone will be satisfied and maybe even consider signing up for foreign language lessons.
Kelly is a native of California. After graduation from UCLA, she began her travels living and cooking in Europe, Asia, and the Northwest. In Tokyo, she earned the Grand Diplôme, for both Cuisine and Pâtisserie at Le Cordon Bleu.
Kelly is a freelance food writer. She started the website, Tokyo-Table.com, where she reviews Tokyo restaurants from the perspective of a professional chef. Kelly has written for publications in Asia and North America on all aspects of cooking. Kelly now lives in Los Angeles with her family and her vegetable garden.