"Standard ratatouille is made with tomatoes, sautéed garlic, onion, zucchini, eggplant, bell peppers, and herbes de Provence. My faux ratatouille omits the zucchini and bell peppers, replaces the onion with onion powder, includes chickpeas for protein, and uses eggplant as a bed for the sauce. It also uses Mexican spices instead of Provençal seasoning. So maybe it’s nothing like ratatouille. Except that it reminds me of ratatouille and does have several similarities. Name aside, this combination is delicious and gorgeous. In Instagram lingo, this dish is pure “vegan foodporn”! Save this one for a dinner party, or for when you’re cooking for friends. They’ll be very impressed."
INGREDIENTS serves 3-4
2 medium-large eggplant (about 1 pound each)
6 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon dried oregano
⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅛ teaspoon chipotle powder
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1½ cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup chopped kale leaves
¼ cup vegetable broth or water, plus more as needed
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Score the cut sides of both eggplant using the tip of a small knife. Make small incisions in a crosshatch pattern on all 4 halves without piercing the skin. Drizzle 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil evenly over the cut side of each half, making sure the oil gets into the incisions. Rub the olive oil into the flesh. Season generously with salt and pepper.
Place the eggplant, cut side down, on the prepared baking sheet and roast for about 30 minutes, or until a knife can be inserted into the middle meeting almost no resistance. Remove the eggplant from the oven and turn them cut side up.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the smoked paprika, onion powder, oregano, cayenne, and chipotle powder and cook for 30 seconds more, stirring constantly. Add the diced tomatoes, mustard, and maple syrup. Bring the tomatoes to a simmer and add the chickpeas, kale, and vegetable broth. Continue to simmer until the kale is just wilted and the chickpeas are warmed through. Add more vegetable broth if the sauce becomes too dry. Season with salt and black pepper.
Use your hands to gently pull apart the squares of the eggplant to allow the sauce to run in between the cuts. Pour a quarter of the chickpea tomato sauce over each half. Serve immediately.
This recipe can be found in Nisha's new cookbook, Practically Vegan. It contains more than 100 easy, tasty and budget-friendly dinners for yourself, or for family and friends. Click here to know more.
(Registered Dietitian, Plant-Based Culinary School Graduate)
Of Indian origin, born in Jamaica, and educated in England and Canada, Nisha Melvani has grown up with a myriad of cultures and ingredients around her. A graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute as well as Columbia University's master's degree in nutrition education and a registered dietitian nutritionist, Nisha feels strongly that we can all eat healthier while still maintaining a budget. She runs the @CookingforPeanuts Instagram feed, a recipe blog Cookingforpeanuts.com, and lives in New York City with her three children.