Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chickpea Ratatouille

Much of the feedback that I have received from readers relates to how easy a lot of my posted recipes are to prepare. You're thankful of that because you, like me, like to have lives outside of the kitchen. Although I am that weird kind of person that actually enjoys coming home from a long day at work and cooking dinner, I don't want the meal preparation to take up the entire evening. Even better, I'd like to dirty as few dishes as possible while I am in the kitchen. Better still, I'd like to prepare something on Sunday and have it keep in the refrigerator for an appetizing dinner I can reheat during the week. This is where a delicious dish with a strange name makes perfect sense.

Ratatouille (pronounced rat-a-too-ee) is a traditional French vegetable stew. It is usually made with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and spices and is known for its versatility: it can be eaten alone or as a side dish, served over pasta, over crusted bread, as a filling in crepes, in eggs, etc. It's also a great way to use up an abundance of vegetables.

This version of ratatouille is a little different in that chickpeas are the predominant ingredient and the cider vinegar gives it a subtle tang that complements the additions of ginger, honey and allspice. I normally serve this over rice to make a more filling meal and make the stew stretch over a few weekdays, but part of the fun of making a ratatouille is finding creative ways serve it.

Chickpea Ratatouille

3 cups canned chickpeas (2 14.5 oz cans is a good equivalent)
1 red onion, finely chopped
3 - 4 garlic cloves, minced
28 oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped
2 tbsp cider vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp freshly grated ginger (or about 1 tsp ground ginger)
2 tsp honey
2 tsp ground yellow mustard seed
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp allspice
Freshly ground pepper to taste
2 bay leaves

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees
2.) Mix all ingredients in ONE bowl
3.) Transfer to a baking dish (I use a 2-1/2 quart dish)
4.) Cover and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven, stir, and bake for 30 to 45 minutes more
5.) Remove bay leaves  before eating

This recipe calls for a lot of dried herbs and spices. To save money, I generally buy my spices from a local bulk health food store. It's almost always cheaper than buying the jars in the grocery store. I re-use the small plastic containers they measure the spices into and sometimes I only buy a small amount if it's not an ingredient I use a lot (I mean, who really goes through a whole spice jar of mace quickly?). If you don't live near a bulk store like this, I also have found that World Market stores generally sell a decent selection of bagged spices for reasonable prices.

1 comment:

  1. I appreciate you explaining "Ratatouillie" to me. I didn't quite understand what it was before. THANKS LISA!