Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thick And Hearty Ragout ...

Now that the weather is getting colder, I've been craving rich, substantial food. Ragoût is a thick, hearty stew of French origin; a similar version known as ragù is made in Italy. Depending on the cook and the region, ragoût can be made with the intention of serving it as a main course, or as a thick sauce to accompany boiled new potatoes, noodles, or some other form of starch.
The defining characteristic of ragoût is that it is cooked very slowly over low heat. The slow cooking allows flavors to develop over time, creating a richly layered flavor.
In terms of ingredients, there are no rules with ragoût. Usually a main ingredient such as meat, mushrooms, or root vegetables is browned in the pan before liquids like water or wine are added, and then various spices such as pepper and herbs may be added as well. Ingredients can also be added as the ragout cooks to ensure that they don't melt away into the stew; the imagination is really the only limit when cooking this dish.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, diced
2 tablespoons minced garlic (I used garlic from a jar)
3 zucchini, sliced
3 green pepper, cut in strips
2 boxes mushrooms, sliced
2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tsp. red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon basil
2 cans (15 ounces each) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 can (14 ounces) Italian diced tomatoes
1 can chicken broth

Heat the oil in a heavy saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and garlic; stir for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cumin and stir to incorporate. Saute mushrooms, zucchini, and green pepper.
Stir in chickpeas, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, basil and simmer.

I served this over rice in shallow bowls with hearty French dinner rolls.

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