Jacques Pepin's Fast Food My Way has a recipe for a chickpea ragout that was the starting point for this recipe. We started with the best intentions to stay faithful to Pepin's recipe, but as the ragout was developing, I felt it wanted a little bit of this and a little bit of that to bring out more flavor.
Jacques Pepin is one of the most important chefs of the 20th Century. He cooked for DeGaulle, revolutionized prepared foods for Howard Johnson, wrote for the New York Times, and taught America how to cook with Julia Child. He holds a Legion of Honor, is on the faculty at Boston University, and founded The American Institute of Wine and Food. The man is a legend. Obviously I'm not arrogant enough to say I improved on a Jacques Pepin recipe, I'm just saying my version tastes better... (Besides, did you ever eat at a Howard Johnson when they were around? Meh.)
So, having now offended all hard-core foodies -
My secret additions (well, not secret I guess because I'm writing them up on a public blog) are tomato sauce, oregano, and red wine vinegar (actually the remains of a bottle of Oregon pinot noir we let go vinegary - don't toss those little dregs of unfinished wine, use them as vinegars).
To my portion I also added some fake bacon bits, a smoky soy product. You could certainly use real bacon, crumbled up. I added the bacon bits to my portion only because my wife is not so meat-flavor crazy, while I think chickpeas and bacon (or at last the salt and smokiness I associate with bacon) are a perfect match.
Serve the ragout over a toasted piece of whole grain bread and top with a fried egg for a very nice vegetarian dinner in a bowl.
Chickpea Ragout inspired by Jacques Pepin
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
1/2 cup diced scallions
1 small can (15 oz.) pomodoro tomatoes, chopped coarsely
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 16 oz. can chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (or 1/4 cup red wine and 1/4 cup wine vinegar)
1/2 cup marinara sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon real or fake bacon bits
(up to) 1 tablespoon flour as thickener
2 eggs, 2 tablespoons butter for topping fried egg
2 slices whole grain bread, toasted.
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley as garnish
Heat the oil in a very large (12") skillet until shimmering. Add the garlic, shallots, and onions and sautee until the onions are soft.
Add the tomatoes, chickpeas, stock, oregano, sauce, and vinegar. Mix well. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer for 15 minutes. If the mixture is not thick enough (stew like), gradually add the flour while stirring until you get the consistency you want. Salt and pepper to taste
Add the bacon bits near the end and cook for just a minute longer after you've added them.
Put one slice of toasted bread in the bottom of each bowl. Divide the chickpea ragout into two bowls, (or four, see below), reserving some of the mix for leftovers or seconds.
Melt butter and fry 2 eggs individually, over easy. Top each dish with egg, sprinkle parsley as garnish, and serve.
Makes for a nice, filling dinner with a few leftovers or seconds with the egg. Alternately, serve three-four immediately, adding an egg and slice of toast for each person. You may need more than just this dish to satisfy four hungry diners.