Friday, March 30, 2012

Vegetable and Chickpea Gratin

I'd like to say that I'm fairly committed to eating locally and in season. You know, squashes, sweet potatoes and hearty greens in the winter. Lettuces, asparagus, and peas in the spring. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and berries in the summer. Pumpkins, apples, potatoes, and such in the fall. Ok, honestly, I'm not that committed. I eat avocados and lemons from California on a daily basis. And I've bought raspberries in December. Oh well. At least I can attest to fresh produce being in the peak of its flavor when it's grown locally and eaten in season. It just can't be beat. And I'm so looking forward to the warm weather coming when I know that I will be eating almost 100% local. I mean, I live just a block away from a ginormous farmers market and a 30 minute ride from pick-your-own-everything farms. Upstate New York isn't so bad.
 I'm fully aware that this recipe is made with summer vegetables that aren't quite in season yet, but I was dying for these flavors of summer. As with all of my produce I buy, I made sure that the vegetables were organic. This dish is reminiscent of a ratatouille, but with some added texture from the chickpeas, plus a dusting of high quality Parmigiano Reggiano cheese makes it a bit more decadent. I know it will taste a thousand times better in the summer when all of the ingredients will be from local farms. But for now, it does the trick to get me super excited for the warmer weather coming so soon. So excuse me, but I'm off to go make something with asparagus and peas. Happy Spring!

Vegetable and Chickpea Gratin (from Williams Sonoma Vegetarian)

1 1/2 cup cooked chickpeas
3 Asian Eggplants (slender), cut into 1 inch cubes
3 small zucchini, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 small yellow onions, quartered
1 large red, yellow, or green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch squares
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small can whole peeled Roma tomatoes (14 1/2 ounce can), drained of liquid and chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup vegetable stock
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons dried basil or 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme 
2 tablespoons dried oregano
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

1. In a large pot, cook the onions and peppers with a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 10 minutes. Add the eggplants, zucchini and continue  to cook until just starting to soften, about 10 minutes longer. Add garlic and stir for 1 minute longer.

2. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable stock, red pepper flakes, basil, thyme, oregano and cooked chickpeas. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Preheat oven to 375. Pour the vegetable mixture into a 2 quart baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with the cheese. Bake until golden and bubbling around the edges, about 20 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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1 comment:

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