This slow cooker butternut squash ratatouille is an oil-free, vegetable-packed, healthy, and flavorful vegetable stew. Put the cut vegetables in your slow cooker in the morning and come home to the scent of rosemary and cumin tantalizing your senses. Hope you are hungry!
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For the slow cooker butternut squash you will need:
Butternut squash, sweet onions, one each zucchini and yellow squash, and minced garlic. You will also need some lemon juice, ground cumin, low sodium soy sauce, and maple syrup. Top it off with capers and you’ve got yourself a flavorful butternut squash stew!
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All About Ratatouille
I’ll be honest, when I hear the word “Ratatouille” the image of a cartoon rat comes to mind…just saying. Ratatouille is actually a traditional French dish of mixed vegetables. It can be served as a side dish or main course. For plant-eaters, of course, a hearty vegetable dish such as this would serve as the main course.
Ratatouille is often made with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes. There really are no hard and fast rules about which vegetables you use in the dish though. I used butternut squash because I had an abundance of it living in my refrigerator when I was developing my Coconut Curry Butternut Squash recipe. We can’t let good food go to waste!
Two Cooking Methods
There are two schools of thought when it comes to cooking ratatouille – one is that you cook the vegetables separately and then combine them so that the flavors are distinct and separate. You might also see a dish like this with the vegetables sliced and placed in a casserole and cooked. While they did cook together, the flavors did not necessarily mix. The other method is to cook together and allow the flavors to meld and meld. This method is more like a stew.
My recipe follows the meld and combine method and cooks all day in the slow cooker to achieve this combined cacophony of flavors. You can read more about the history of ratatouille in this article by The Real French Foods.
When you cook ratatouille, you do not need to add any broth. The natural moisture from the vegetables provides plenty of liquid for this stew-like dish. One ingredient that almost all ratatouille includes, no matter the method used, is oil. Lots of oil. For those of us wanting to stay away from processed oil in our recipes, this presents a problem. I found that when cooked in the slow cooker for most of the day, I didn’t really miss the oil in this dish. The intense flavor of the vegetables and seasonings as well as the texture was perfect. No oil needed! Try this slow cooker butternut squash recipe if you are looking for a rich, flavorful vegetable-filled meal and don’t want the oil You’ll be glad you did.
Tips and Tricks for Success in Making the Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Ratatouille Recipe
- Follow all directions to ensure success.
- I am not NOT going to peel and cube butternut squash if I can help it! You can often find it already prepared in the produce section of your favorite grocery store.
- You might see rosemary in the package of butternut squash you buy. I have often found this to be less flavorful than the fresh rosemary I can find a few feet away in the fresh herb section.
- If you want to peel and cube your own squash- or if you can’t find it for purchase in the produce section, you will need about 3 cups loosely packed cubed butternut squash.
- A yellow sweet onion is the best to use for a mellow flavor. I use half of a large onion, diced (about 1 generous cup).
- I like to cut the zucchini in chunks AND in slices for a little variety.
- Strip the kale leaves from the tough stems and chop. Or, if you can find baby kale, use that instead. I often have trouble sourcing baby kale and so have used regular kale in this recipe. You’ll want to chop it about this size.
- Sprinkle the cumin, lemon juice, salt and minced garlic on top of the vegetables.
- I use a 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes for this recipe. Pour it over the other vegetables and place three sprigs of rosemary on top. After it has cooked you will remove the rosemary sprigs much like you would a bay leaf.
- After the ratatouille has finished cooking (7 hours on low), stir in the real maple syrup, incorporating and somewhat mashing the vegetables together.
- Adding the maple syrup helps to balance out the acidic tomato taste. Start with 1/2 teaspoon and add up to another 1/2 teaspoon to taste.
- I also add in a little low sodium soy sauce at the end. The reason I do not put it in at the beginning and cook with it is that it adds certain flavor on top of the vegetable flavor. When used as a cooking ingredient from the beginning and cooked for seven hours, it can change the flavor of the vegetables.
- Top it off with capers. Capers are actually little immature flower buds that have been brined and so can be pretty salty. I always rinse mine before adding. They will still be plenty salty.
Things I Found Helpful in Making This Recipe
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The Recipe and Serving Suggestions for Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Ratatouille
Isn’t this butternut squash stew beautiful?!? Serve with a crusty loaf of bread or breadsticks for a complete and filling meal.
Slow Cooker Butternut Squash Ratatouille
- 3 cups butternut squash peeled and cubed
- 1/2 sweet yellow onion diced (one cup)
- 1 zucchini sliced and cubed
- 1 yellow squash sliced and cubed
- 2 cups kale leaves strip from the tough stems and chop
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1.2 teaspoon salt
- 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
- 28 ounce diced tomatoes canned
- 3 sprigs rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon maple syrup more to taste
- 1/2 Tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons capers drained and rinsed.
- Cut/slice/dice all vegetables. Strip the kales leaves from the tough stem and chop.
- Put all vegetables: butternut squash, zucchini, yellow squash, onion, kale, and garlic in a 3 1/2 quart slow cooker.
- Sprinkle ground cumin, salt, and lemon juice on top.
- Pour canned diced tomatoes over vegetables.
- Place three sprigs of fresh rosemary on top.
- Cover and cook for 7 hours on low.
- After cooking, remove the rosemary and discard. If a few rosemary leaves end up in the ratatouille, it will be fine. No need to pick out every little leaf.
- Stir in the real maple syrup to balance out the acidic tomatoes. Start with 1/2 teaspoon. Add up to another 1/2 teaspoon to taste.
- Stir in the low sodium soy sauce.
- As you are stirring the maple syrup, sodium sauce, and tomatoes into the vegetable mixture, you can break up the vegetables slightly.
- Drain and rinse 2 Tablespoons capers. Add on top.