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Culinary Capers’ Chickpea Cacciatore

With spring just around the corner our menus are starting to shift from hearty to healthy comfort foods.  It’s been fun for our kitchen team to watch our Chef de Cuisine Jonathan Chovancek on CBC’s Village on a Diet series.  His philosophy of healthy alternatives for the folks of Taylor, BC has definitely created a ripple effect into our spring and summer menu planning.  Enjoy this dish, your body will love you for it!

Culinary Capers Chickpea Cacciatore
Serves 5

2  – 19 oz cans  garbanzo beans
5 Tbsp  extra virgin olive oil
½  cup  carrots, diced fine
1/3 cup  onion, diced fine
1/3 cup  celery, diced fine
2 tsp  garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp  fresh thyme
3/4 cup  red wine
3/4 cup  water
1 1/4  cups  tomato sauce, homemade or your favourite store bought
1/3 tsp  cinnamon
½ oz  dried porcini mushrooms
6 oz  button mushrooms
salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp  Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Soak porcini mushrooms in hot water (1/2 cup) for minimum 30 minutes (or overnight to get more flavour out of them).  Chop into ¼ inch pieces.  Reserve soaking liquid.

Sauté sliced button mushrooms  in 2 Tbsp olive oil until caramelized.  Deglaze with 1/4 cup red wine.  Sauté onions in remaining olive oil over medium low heat until translucent, approximately 15 minutes.  Add celery, carrots and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, or until slightly softened.  Add cinnamon and the rest of the red wine.  Simmer 5 minutes.

Combine the remainder of the ingredients, including the porcini liquid in a covered oven-proof dish. Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Braise in the oven for 45 minutes.

Take ¾ cup of the chickpea mixture out and purée in a blender until completely smooth.  To ensure that you have made a very smooth mixture, add a little extra juice from the braise to keep it thin enough to manage in the blender.  Stir back into the braise.  If the dish seems thick, add a little more tomato sauce.  (Tip:  a little V8 juice will add a kick of flavour.)   Finish dish with freshly chopped parsley.

Chef Margaret tip:  You can serve this dish with couscous, white or brown rice, your favourite noodles or polenta.  I love quinoa and think it makes a great accompaniment.  High in protein, it is very tasty, nutty and sweet.  Red quinoa is a special treat, albeit more expensive.  Try not to be intimidated and give it a try, it is surprisingly easy to cook.

For 1 cup of quinoa, use 1 1/2 cups of water.  Combine in a medium sauce pan with a tight fitting lid.  Bring to a boil and turn down very low.  Simmer until all the water is absorbed and quinoa is tender.  Approximately 15 minutes.

Photo: Executive Chef Margaret Chisholm


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