Ratatouille, a rustic farm to table style dish. It’s a summer/early fall recipe for those who appreciate big flavor and simplicity while using the seasons harvest. Originating in Nice, it’s a traditional French Provençal stewed vegetable dish. Ratatouille is often served as a side dish but it is a recipe that can undoubtedly stand alone, especially with the addition of chickpeas adding a fair amount of protein to this colorful array of garden vegetables. There is much debate as to how to prepare ratatouille, but I chose to adapt my recipe from this one at La Tartine Gourmade, she also has a nice story with hers. It’s a fairly simple approach to preparing this dish involving sauteeing and stewing on the stove top which resulted in a wonderful finish. And it tastes even better the next day! You may also like to see other cooking styles of ratatouille, I recommend looking at these for more inspiration: Saveur (I’ll for sure be doing this one, it’s perfectly old world rustic and comfy looking), 86 Lemons (a simple roasted version using chickpeas as well) and Olives For Dinner (a ‘confit byaldi’, a little more tidy looking making for a beautiful presentation).
I know ratatouille isn’t anything new but this classic sure deserves a place in the simple veganista collection!
Gather your ingredients. These are all common vegetables, and fruits ie, tomato, and available year round here in Southern California. Eggplant is the only produce that seems to be more seasonal here, or maybe I just don’t notice it as much as I don’t use it often. For the garbanzo beans, you can start with dried beans cooking them according to this guide or use canned for extra ease. Herbs can be varied to suit your taste. Bea, author of the original recipe, uses a bay leaf and tarragon in her recipe. Here I have used fresh basil, thyme and some herbes de Provence. I even threw in some red pepper flakes. Go with what you feel, there is no wrong way to season your ratatouille as long as you like it! It’s also a great way to change it up. I think I’ll try some tarragon next time myself.
Dice your vegetables. Next time, I’ll be sure to chop the bell peppers the same size as the zucchini and eggplant, about 1/2 inch cubes. It makes it a bit easier to eat when they are uniform in size. I do like the onion sliced here but feel free to dice that instead too. It may seem as though you have too much produce (the tomatoes aren’t even shown) and won’t fit in the pot but the eggplant will shrink down and the rest of the veggies will soften and you’ll be fine. You may even consider adding extra next time to make sure you have leftovers.
Vegetables have been sauteed and the ratatouille is ready for the first round of simmering before adding in the chickpeas. Still nice and colorful.
Chickpeas have been added and will simmer awhile longer. Depending on how you like your vegetables will depend on the length of time you allow your ratatouille to simmer. The longer you leave it, the more juices will form making for a great dipping sauce for a slice of good artisan bread. I preferred simmering mine for a total of about 35 minutes, I like the color and crisper texture but I didn’t get as much of the juices. Go for a full hour or more to really let the ingredients sweat and get the juices going. Again, still colorful here. Your colors may become muted the longer you stew but the result with be delicious!
CHICKPEA RATATOUILLE NICOISE
- 3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 cans (15oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1 eggplant, diced
- 3 small zucchini or 2 medium, diced
- 2 bell peppers (1 yellow & 1 red pref.), seeds removed, sliced
- 1 onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 lb. grape tomatoes, cut in half
- 2 teaspoons herbes de Provence or fresh thyme (I added a bit of both)
- a few fresh basil leaves (left whole or chopped)
- mineral salt, to taste
- pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
In a heavy bottom pot or dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, add eggplant and zucchini, saute for 5 minutes. Remove from pot and set aside.
Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat, add onions, garlic and bell peppers, saute for 3-4 minutes. Add tomatoes, mix well and cook 5 minutes. Add in eggplant, zucchini, herbs, spices and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to a low and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes. Add in chickpeas and simmer anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your personal preference (less time for crisper vegetables, more time for softer vegetables and more juices). Stir occasionally until ready.
Serve topped with chopped fresh herbs. Pair it with a gluten free or favorite artisan loaf of bread. I have it here with a wonderful olive loaf. Try serving it on a bed of quinoa, rice or pasta to make it go further.
Serve warm, cold or at room temperature. Enjoy!
Serves 4 – 6
To make this virtually fat free, try water sauteing your vegetables using about 3 – 4 tablespoons of water instead of oil. Total amount of water for this recipe would be 6 – 8 tablespoons, divided.
I would dice my bell peppers next time, it’s easier to eat them when they are the same size as the zucchini and eggplant pieces.
For the spices, try mixing and matching marjoram, thyme, rosemary, fennel and/or savory. Or use a bay leaf and tarragon.
The longer you simmer the more juices will accumulate.