Chickpeas Romescos Mas-Rapidos!

3 Feb

Here is a terrible vegan secret: I used to hate beans.  Like a lot of kids, I was a pretty picky eater growing up, and it took me a while to, you know, develop a palate.  Back when my folks were vegetarian (maybe it’s genetic!) my mother used to make this dish I assume she and my dad liked, but I just couldn’t stand.  It was something to do with chickpeas and spinach (maybe that’s just what it was called!) and I hated every bite.  And I have had a pretty long-standing revulsion to beans in general, and chickpeas in particular, ever since.

Well, guess what.  Me and beans, we’re okay now.  I think the resistance started to fade a little when the boyfriend made me hummus (p.s.: no one’s hummus will ever be better than his!) and even more when, in my earlier days of contemplating vegetarianism/veganism and being flexitarian-y, ordered a carne asada burrito at a Mexican place and realized that, suddenly, my brain had made the transition from meat as food to meat as former flesh, and I didn’t want to eat it any more.  So, I ate Spanish rice, and refried beans!  Turns out they were pretty good.  Emboldened, I set out to expand my pantry’s bean supplies and explore more bean dishes.  Believe it or not, this is probably only the second or third thing I’ve made with garbanzo beans!

I found the beginnings of this recipe in Veganomicon, the Martha Stewart’s Cooking School of the vegan set (although don’t let me discount the former!  There are many good tools in it for all diets, but there’s meat, cheese, and cream aplenty, so beware.) Well, maybe not Cooking School, but a good introduction to all things vegan.  I was originally going to not bother with this book because obviously I know everything, but a good, thorough knowledge of how to make a variety of grains and greens and wheat-meats you might not have previously known even existed is a boon to anyone looking to vary their diet.  In any case, I was looking for a few more “exciting” recipes, because half the enjoyment of cooking (for me) is trying new and sometimes complex foods.  Sometimes it’s nice to have dinner on the table in 30 minutes, but at least at this point in my life, I feel a little crestfallen when that’s the case.  Besides, long cooking times allow time for baking breakfast in advance!  Yeah.

But, as some of you know, I’m not the best at reading and following directions.  I’ve gotten a little better, but I’m still not in the habit of reading over recipes before I make them.  This was one of those recipes where I glanced at it and thought, “Oh, I pretty much have all of this!” and then got started, only to find that I had to make some substantial changes to the recipe based on my pantry.  But that’s what cooking is all about!  Like not roasting your red peppers in advance, and then throwing caution to the wind!

I made this with the recommended side of Saffron-Garlic Rice, which was also good, though much easier to prepare (beforehand, extracting some saffron in vegetable broth, standard sauteed garlic/onion with the rice and some Spanish/Mediterranean spices like coriander and such for 20-25 minutes.)

Oh, and broccoli, can't forget that.

Without further ado, Chickpeas Romescos Mas-Rapidos (more quickly!)

Chickpeas Romescos Mas-Rapidos

Special equipment: Food processor and (if you have one!) spice grinder

1/3 cup of sliced walnuts (they used almonds)
1 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
2 red bell peppers, diced
Olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup vegetable broth (you can use cooking wine but I never seem to have any when I want it!)
2 tsp white vinegar (substituted for red wine vinegar–I know, I know, it turned out well, though!)
1 1/2 teaspoons agave syrup
3 teaspoons of mixed Italian seasonings
2 teaspoons of paprika
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Two 15-oz cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Begin by chopping all your vegetables in advance (and in this case, rinsing and draining the beans)!  As always, this will make your life considerably easier.  Then, slice up your nuts (eep) and grind them finely in a spice blender.  Reserve.  Mix together your can of tomatoes and the peppers and puree.  Set these aside with the nuts.

Get out a good-sized saucepan and heat up some olive oil to medium heat; salt and pepper, then saute the onion for 5 minutes (or until it begins to soften and turn transparent), followed by the garlic for one minute.  Deglaze the saucepan with vegetable broth or white wine and let it simmer while you get the reserved ingredients (assuming you can do that in about a minute or so.)  Mix in the tomato/pepper puree, vinegar, agave, and Italian seasoning, followed by the paprika and red pepper flakes.  Bring to a very slow, gentle boil and let simmer for about 7 minutes.  (Original recipe says ten; 5-7 certainly sufficed to begin reduction for mine.)

Add the ground nuts and mix well, followed by both cans of chickpeas; mix until completely folded into the mixture.  Simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes for the sauce to thicken and the chickpeas to soften up.  Salt some more, if you like; otherwise, serve.  (You may actually want to wait for this to cool down a touch, it was very hot initially!)

Serve with:

Saffron-Garlic Rice

1 1/2 – 2 cups of vegetable broth
5-6 strands of saffron
Olive oil for sauteing
4-6 cloves of garlic
1 small bay leaf
Salt, pepper, ginger, coriander, etc. to taste
1 cup white rice

Boil the vegetable broth and mix in the saffron to soak; leave it to do so while you saute the garlic in olive oil until it starts to brown/turn golden.  Add the onion and saute to translucency, then toast the rice in the same pan for about a minute.  Scrape into the pan with the saffron and broth and bring to a boil, adding the bay leaf and spices.  (Let your imagination run wild!  If you are not feeling wild or fusion-y, maybe just stick with salt and coriander.)  Cook the rice for 20-25 minutes.

dinnnnnerrrrrrrrrr

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