Wednesday 2 February 2011

Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille with Chickpeas

I always think you can tell quite a lot about someone by noticing what they have in their shopping trolley!  Whether it's piled high with ready-made dishes, fast-food snacks or filled with a colourful selection of fresh raw ingredients, their choice of foods can reveal much about their attitude to health and well-being.

Because Eric and I don't eat any meat, eggs or dairy produce,  many of the products lining the supermarket shelves are simply "off limits" to me so I just pass them by.  I have spent years studying the contents labels on new products and generally know what I can and cannot eat. This is some of the shopping I brought home one day last week. It looked so colourful and appetising, I couldn't resist taking a photo! 

Other weekly basics include soya milk, dairy free margarine, multi grain bread, pasta and rice plus extras such as sun-dried tomatoes, olives and hummus, ready to eat apricots, dairy free yogurts and some dairy-free dark chocolate!

Living on a mostly plant-based diet, we do eat a lot of fresh vegetables and here's a lovely way to prepare them that's good either served hot with rice, pasta or potatoes or cold for lunch another day.  The chickpeas are an optional extra, the recipe works just as well without them.   In the summer and autumn, I use fresh tomatoes and courgettes from the garden but tinned tomatoes are a good substitute at other times.

Ingredients          Serves four

1 large onion
1 aubergine
2 red peppers
2 courgettes
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 cloves garlic
40g sundried tomatoes in oil
400g tin good quality tomatoes
 (or 500g fresh tomatoes, skinned)
400g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Extra-virgin olive oil
A handful of fresh basil leaves


Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/Gas Mark 7.  

Put the coriander seeds in a pestle and mortar and grind into pieces.

Wash and then cut the peppers, aubergine and courgettes into pieces approximately 2.5cm or 1” square.  Mix the peppers in a bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 

Transfer to a roasting tray and spread out neatly. Repeat with the courgettes and aubergine, using two trays if necessary rather than squashing all the vegetables on one tray.  Scatter the crushed coriander seeds over the vegetables.

Place the trays in the preheated oven and bake for about 30 - 35 minutes. Check the vegetables once or twice, turning them over so they become evenly cooked.

Meanwhile, chop the onion and crush the garlic cloves and place in a large pan with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil.  Stir, then cover with a lid and cook gently for about 10 minutes until tender, without browning.  

Now cut up your tomatoes roughly in the tin with a sharp knife and add to the pan together with the chopped sundried tomatoes. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally until the sauce has reduced and thickened.

When the roasted vegetables are ready, add them to your tomato sauce with the drained chickpeas.

Stir well and taste to check the seasoning.  Cover and continue to simmer on the hob for about 15 minutes. Alternatively place in the oven for 30 minutes at 180C.   

Garnish with fresh basil leaves. Serve with rice, pasta or potatoes and a green vegetable.

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