A loose take on the famous French dish, but completely vegan! This hearty stew of chickpeas and vegetables, bathed in a rich red wine gravy, makes a wonderful warming winter dinner. It’s gloriously dark and glossy, packed full of good things, brimming with flavour, and really easy to make.
In the midst of winter, on those days when the cold seems to settle in your bones, sometimes the only thing that will do is stew. After all, there are few things more comforting than a steaming bowl of slow-cooked, yielding vegetables luxuriating in a bath of smooth, rich gravy, particularly when that gravy is largely made up of red wine.
This recipe came about thanks to some vegetables languishing in the fridge, and not much other than a few tins in the cupboard. My intent was to make a fairly basic casserole to use everything up, with a splash of red wine and half a tin of tomatoes. But because the only carrots we had were purple, the slightly reddish tinge to the stew became a glorious burgundy, and with a bit more wine the results were delicious.
I have never eaten coq au vin so I could not tell you how apt the moniker chickpeas au vin is, aside from the fact the the stew is largely chickpeas in wine. My aunt made the comparison, but she hasn’t eaten meat since before I went vegetarian 20 years ago, so I’m not sure she’s a reliable judge either. But the most important thing, is that this is a big, warming, comforting stew that tastes wonderful and makes you feel even better.
How to make chickpeas au vin
One of the great things about stew is that you can adapt it depending on what you have in the cupboard or what needs using up. So if you’ve got loads of leeks but no shallots then use those instead. If you’ve got a couple of parsnips that are past their best, or a bit of red cabbage, then bung them in too.
So to start, put a casserole dish on the hob on a medium heat with a little olive oil and/or vegan butter. If you have shallots or baby onions, top, tail and peel them and add to the pan whole once the oil is hot. Shake them around occasionally, and they’ll start to brown a little. You could use brown or red onions instead, or extra leeks. And if you don’t have a leek just add a bit more onion.
Wash and chop a few stalks of celery and add to the pan with the onions, as well as a sliced leek. Finely slice a few cloves of garlic and stir everything together for a couple of minutes.
Next, peel and roughly chop some carrots. I used a combination of purple and regular carrots, but either by themselves is fine. I love the additional depth of colour that purple carrots give the stew but the orange ones taste just as good!
Then it’s time for the wine – any full-bodied red should do the trick. Add a splash to the pan and stir to de-glaze, which just means to loosen any tasty morsels stuck to the bottom, then add the rest. Tip in half a tin of tomatoes, and a litre of vegetable stock, and stir everything together.
At this point you can prepare and add any other root vegetables you like. I added a bit of swede, but you could use parsnips, celeriac, turnip, or potatoes if you have them lying around. Once in the pan, bring everything to the boil, then turn down to a simmer while you add the final few ingredients.
A bundle of herbs (aka a bouquet garni) is the traditional way to flavour the casserole – if you have fresh herbs, use a bit of string to tie together a sprig of bay leaves, a few stalks of rosemary and a bunch of thyme. Otherwise you can always use dried – add a couple of dried bay leaves, and a little dried thyme and rosemary, or a generous spoon of herbs de provence.
And finally, the chickpeas. I had a tin of black chickpeas at the back of the cupboard and thought this an excellent opportunity to use them up, given the rather gothic colour scheme of this dish, but standard chickpeas are absolutely fine. Drain the tin and stir them into the stew, along with a little salt and pepper. You can then place the lid on the pot and put it in the oven for and hour and a half or so, in order for everything to get deliciously soft and sweet.
Once out of the oven, you can eat it immediately, but if you want the gravy a little thicker there’s a final step. Put the casserole dish back on the hob over a low heat. In a small bowl, add some arrowroot powder or cornflour, and mix with a little water until you have a smooth slurry. Stir this into the stew, ensuring it’s fully incorporated, then bring to the boil – remove the pan from the heat as soon as the first bubbles start to appear.
Variations and servings suggestions
While chickpeas are the eponymous hero of this dish, you can always substitute them for other beans; cannellini, borlotti, black-eyed beans or butter beans would all work well. You could even use a chicken-style meat replacement for a not-coq au vin. Whatever you use, the key is to allow them plenty of time to cook in the gravy so they absorb all the glorious flavours.
One of my favourite ways to serve this stew is with chunks of crusty, fresh bread and vegan butter – a fresh baguette would really accentuate the French vibe. Bread also serves as an excellent sponge to mop up any gravy remaining on your plate, because all that slow-cooked flavour should not go to waste.
This stew also goes wonderfully with potatoes; you could pile it on top of a jacket potato (which requires roughly the same oven time), or serve it with boiled or mashed potato. One of my favourite potato iterations to go alongside stew is gratinated potatoes; potatoes that are very thinly sliced and layered in a shallow oven-proof dish, with a little vegetable stock, plenty of seasoning and some vegan butter dotted on top. Cover in tin foil for the first hour, then uncover until the top crisps up and blackens slightly, by which time the potatoes underneath will have absorbed the stock and become melt-in-the-mouth soft.
However you chose to serve it, this is a guaranteed winter warmer, and I hope it brings you a little comfort in these cold, pandemic-ridden months. If you give this a try I would love to hear your thoughts! You can comment below, rate the recipe using the stars at the top of this post, or tag me on Instagram or Twitter @greedybearbakes.
Chickpeas Au Vin
A gloriously dark and glossy casserole, with a rich red wine gravy
Vegan, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Nut-free, Soya-free
- 1 tbsp oil or vegan butter (I use half and half)
- 150g shallots or baby onions (approx 8–10)
- 2 sticks celery
- 1 medium leek
- 2 fat cloves garlic, finely sliced
- 200g carrots (approx 3 medium, purple or regular)
- 250ml (1 cup) full-bodied red wine
- 200g (½ tin or 1 scant cup) chopped tinned tomatoes
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 100g swede (optional*)
- 1 sprig of fresh bay leaves (5–6 leaves) or 2 dried
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
- small bunch fresh thyme or 1 tsp dried
- 1 tin chickpeas (240g drained weight or 1½ cups)
- Salt and freshy ground black pepper
- 1 heaped tsp arrowroot powder (optional – sub cornflour)
- Pre-heat the oven to 180C fan and put a casserole dish on the hob over a medium heat with 1 tbsp of oil or vegan butter.
- Top and tail your shallots, peel off the skins and add them whole to the pan, shaking them around every now and then so they don’t stick, and start to brown a little on all sides. While they are frying, chop the 2 sticks of celery into 2cm pieces and the leek into 1cm slices and add them to the pan as they are ready. Let them cook altogether for about 5 minutes.
- Slice the garlic as finely as you can, and peel the carrots and chop into 1.5–2cm chunks, and add both to the pan. Stir for a couple of minutes, ensuring the garlic doesn’t burn. Measure out 250ml red wine and add a splash to the pan, stirring thoroughly to bring up anything that may have stuck to the bottom, then pour in the remaining wine, 200g chopped tomatoes and 1 litre vegetable stock. Peel and chop the swede into 2cm chunks and add.
- If you are using fresh herbs, tie the stalks together in a bundle with a little string and add to the stew, otherwise add the dried herbs at this stage. Bring everything to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Add the drained chickpeas, and season generously with salt and pepper. Give everything a stir, cover with a lid, and bake in the oven for 1 ½ hours. By this time the vegetables should be deliciously soft and the liquid reduced a little. You may need to add a bit more stock if the casserole looks a little dry.
- For a thinner stew you can eat immediately, otherwise return the casserole dish to the hob on a low heat. Whisk a heaped teaspoon of arrowroot powder with a couple of tablespoons of water, then stir the slurry into the stew. It may thicken immediately, in which case you can remove it from the heat, or bring the casserole just up to the boil to thicken, before removing from the heat entirely. Serve with crusty fresh bread, or a side of potatoes, and some steamed greens.
*You can leave the swede out altogether, or substitute it for another root vegetable such as parsnip, turnip, celeriac, potato, or even beetroot for extra deep purple-y goodness.