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As much as I love bacon and cheese (and I do!), I really like having experience cooking vegan dishes and having a few proven-yummy vegan recipes in my back pocket.  These days there are people with every sort of dietary restriction there is, and chances are, someone that you know and love has one.  From people who don’t eat meat for ethical reasons, people with all sorts of allergies and people who have religious restrictions to their diets.  My Soon-to-be-Mother-in-Law belongs to an Orthodox Christian church and requires an almost vegan diet during their period of Lent.  (Luckily, she’s a creative and curious cook that doesn’t mind testing out all sorts of international recipes!)  With a couple of great vegan dishes in your repertoire you can serve everyone you love a dish that they will love.

Chickpeas lend themselves to any sort of cuisine that touches the Mediterranean and I love to keep them around.  I started out wanting to make a Moroccan stewed chickpea dish, but then I started throwing in all sorts of spices and flavors and it came out like something delicious that traveling gypsies would make.  It’s a spicy chickpea and vegetable stew served with a sweet and savory apricot rice pilaf.  It’s got a complicated and rich flavor and it’s dirt cheap, just the way I imagine gypsies would like to have their dinner.  Yum!

DSCN5335Gypsy Chickpea Stew

Serves 4 – cost approx $.80 per serving, including Apricot Rice Pilaf


  • 1/2 onion, medium dice ($.12)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 small green bell pepper ($.30)
  • 1/2 stalk broccoli, medium dice ($.35)
  • 3 carrots, medium dice ($.17)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • crushed red pepper, to taste
  • 1″ piece cinnamon stick
  • 1 Tbs garam masala – it’s an all purpose Indian spice mix, it might lend a different flavor, but you could use any middle eastern spice mix or chili powder as a substitute
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • pinch saffron, literally a few threads, it’s super expensive – tumeric would be an excellent substitute
  • 1 can diced tomatoes ($.59)
  • 1-2 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbs minced parsley ($.12)
  • 1 cup dry chickpeas, cooked and drained ($.47) – you could substitute 2 drained cans of chickpeas
  • salt, to taste

Start by sauteing all the vegetables in the olive oil over medium heat for approx 10 minutes.  Add in all the spices in the second set of ingredients and cook for 2-3 minutes more.  Add in the remaining ingredients and simmer for 10-15 minutes, uncovered so that the juices reduce.  Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.  Serve with Apricot Rice Pilaf, recipe below.

DSCN5332Apricot Rice Pilaf

Serves 4


  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, minced ($.12)
  • 1 1/2 oz, approx 6, dried apricots, diced ($0, my fireman saved me the dried fruit that he doesn’t like eating plain from his fire camp lunches because he knows that I can cook with it, he’s so thoughtful of my uber-cheapness!)
  • 2 cups long grain rice ($.47)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • margarine, to taste

Start by heating the olive oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat, saute the onion 5-8 minutes or until fully cooked and translucent.  Add in the rice and apricots and cook 2-3 minutes more.

DSCN5324Add in the vegetable stock, salt and bay leaf and bring to a simmer.  Cover the pot and set over low heat for 15-20 minutes.  Fluff the rice with a fork and taste to adjust the seasonings, add margarine and cover and let sit another 5 minutes so that the margarine melts into the rice.  Yum!