Category: legumes

Stewed Chickpeas with Caramelized Sweet Potato

Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have written some of the most delicious recipes that I have ever tried. The pair have a way of taking whole foods and transforming them into vibrant, flavourful dishes that absolutely never disappoint. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the duo, they are the co-authors of the Ottolenghi and Jerusalem cookbooks. Ottolenghi has also published two excellent vegetarian books, Plenty, and Plenty More, collections of recipes from his vegetarian newspaper column over at the Guardian. Whenever I’m in need of inspiration, I flip one of these gorgeous books open, scan around, and stop at whatever catches my eye, or whatever suits the vegetables in my fridge. I am in no way affiliated with these authors, and this isn’t a promotion. This is just a little fangirl blogging about her biggest inspirations!

This weekend, I was invited to a very meat-centric potluck dinner, so I felt it appropriate to provide a hearty vegetarian option for those of us who are slightly less carnivorous. I wanted to make something simple, but that had a complex flavour profile. Enter this colourful dish – stewed chickpeas with caramelized sweet potatoes. Sounds simple, but Oh. Baby. I want to eat this stuff all day, erry day. Now, note that you can probably make this vegan by subbing coconut oil for the butter, but really, if there’s ever a time to use butter, that time is now. Replacing it would be, just… well, it would be just OK. It would kinda be like the difference between going to see a Stones cover band, or seeing the actual Rolling Stones. The butter is Mick Jagger. You just won’t get the same satisfaction. (See what I did there? Ok, ok, I’ll get on with it.)

This recipe is a variation of the recipe titled Chickpeas and Spinach with Honeyed Sweet Potato (Ottolenghi, 82.) In the spirit of respecting intellectual property, I always like to give credit to those recipe authors who have inspired me, so, thank you kindly, Ottolenghi & Tamimi. You made my potluck dish a big hit!

Stewed Chickpeas with Caramelized Sweet Potato
serves 3 to 4 people

ingredients
500g sweet potato, cubed
50g salted butter
4 tbsp honey
3 cups water

3 tbsp oil
1 small onion (or about 6 shallots), finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp corriander seeds
2 tbsp tomato ketchup
1 can (591ml) chopped, unseasoned tomatoes (no salt added is preferable)
1 tsp grated ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp mango powder (found in most spice stores, Indian or Asian grocers, or bulk stores.)
(note: if you can’t find mango powder, 1 tsp of lemon juice or zest will also work.)

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups torn spinach (or baby spinach)
2 cups chopped fresh cilantro

cayenne pepper, to taste (use more if you like it spicy!)
salt, to taste

method
In a wide pot, bring water with potatoes, butter and honey to a boil. Lower heat to medium, and continue to cook until water is absorbed and butter & honey start to caramelize. Do not stir.

Meanwhile, heat oil in large frying pan. Add onions or shallots, and cook over medium heat, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add cumin and corriander seeds. Continue cooking until onions are brown and have reduced, about 3 more minutes. Add ketchup and stir, scraping any brown bits off of the bottom of the pan. Add canned tomatoes with their juice. Add ginger, cumin and mango powder. Stir well. When mixture starts to bubble, add chickpeas and spinach. Continue to cook until mixture starts to thicken. Add cilantro after about 10 minutes. Taste, and add salt as needed. Add cayenne , a little at a time, until you’ve reached your preferred level of heat. By this time, your potatoes should be ready, or almost there. Once they are, pour them into the pan, along with their buttery juices. Scrape as much of the browned butter into the pan as possible. Give it one nice, gentle stir.

Serve hot, garnished with fresh cilantro.

Green Pea Soup with Roasted Chickpeas

Last week, I posted about Brussels sprouts, the little green vegetables trying to shed their bad reputation. Today, I’ll spotlight another miniature green friend, who often gets tossed under the rug (or fed to the dog.) Please, allow me to re-introduce you to the humble sweet green pea. Often cooked until mushy, overdone, brown, or, to the horror of many, straight out of the can (yuck!) peas were never a favourite of mine. Little did I realize that in another state, these little veggies could pack a flavourful punch. Some may even consider them gourmet (pea froth garnish, anyone?).

It wasn’t until I attended a wedding this summer that I realized that green peas make a wonderful soup. Born and raised in Quebec, “pea soup,” to me has always meant that of the yellow variety, with little chunks of ham and maple syrup. Not that I don’t love that one – I do! It’s part of our culture, a taste of our heritage. I just wasn’t aware that there was another pea, hiding from the spotlight, that could create a wonderfully aromatic, complex, naturally creamy soup, almost entirely on it’s own! 
And oh, that colour though!
Creamy Pea Soup with Roasted Chickpeas
an original recipe by allison sklar
soup ingredients
1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tsp oil or butter
2 cups frozen green peas
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 cup water
salt & pepper, to taste
chickpea ingredients
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cumin
1 tbsp sumac
2 tbsp oil
Roasted chickpeas: Preheat oven to 400F. Toss chickpeas with oil and spices. Lay on parchment lined baking sheet and roast for about 40 minutes, until crisp. 
Soup: Heat oil (or butter) in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and garlic, cooking until translucent. Add water, parsley and peas. Turn up heat to high, bring to a boil. Transfer mixture to blender & blend until completely smooth. Serve hot, garnished with chickpeas. 

Spice Up Your Life (Spicy Lentil Stew)

So I’ve had this can of chiles that’s been sitting in my pantry since Thanksgiving weekend. “Use us! Use us,” They would chirp every once in a while, while I re-arranged my cabinets. I bought them on a whim, not quite sure what I was going to use them for, nor quite sure what they would even taste like. They’ve made the move from shelf to shelf, to the front, to the back, to the left… alright, before I get all Beyonce up in here… they’ve basically been the most challenging food item I’ve ever bought.

But why? I love the addition of chile peppers in soups, stews, and especially in Indian meals, which I’ve grown an intense fondness for in recent months. So what was holding me back from tossing the contents of this little can into my own cooking? I’ll never really know. Perhaps it was fear that they would be too… (insert unpleasantry here). Too hot. Too bland. Too processed. Too tinny. Too salty. However, much to my delight, they aren’t any of those things! These little babies are the secret ingredient in the best-lentils-I’ve-ever-made, and they will possibly serve as the hidden gem in the meals I’ll be making in the chilly days to come.

So, without further adieu, here’s a dish that will warm you on a wintery evening: a combination of hearty lentils to fill you up, sweet bell peppers and earthy greens to add some balance, and smoky heat to warm your soul. Pairs perfectly with a pint of stout, dark or amber ale, or, compliment it nicely by sipping on some smoky whiskey between bites.

(Best Ever) Spicy Lentil Stew
oh hey! it’s vegan! – an original recipe by allison sklar

what you’ll need
2 whole chiles in adobo sauce, diced
1 tsp of adobo sauce ( ^ from can)
1 cup brown lentils, soaked (not canned)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1 large bell pepper, diced
1 cup spinach*, chopped
3/4 cup vegetable broth (or ale)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp salt

*note: you may substitute kale or collard greens for a more earthy flavour.

how to do it
Preheat oven to 350F. Combine lentils, spinach, cilantro and bell pepper in a casserole dish. Toss with spices and adobo sauce. Pour broth over the entire mixture. Cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring once, about half way. Best served over cooked basmati rice with a dollop of yogourt. Garnish with fresh cilantro and a pinch of smoked paprika.