Spiced Chickpea & Spinach Stew

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Wowwie! This is so wonderfully flavorful and warm and cozy and I might or might not have finished 3/4 of the whole batch in one go.

I’m a huge fan of chickpeas in almost any form – curries, hummus, spiced and dried, in desserts (yes, desserts! google chickpea desserts and don’t knock it before you try it) – so it was inevitable that I would love this stew specially since it involves lots of olive oil, spices and spinach (my favorite vegetable by far – it’s so versatile!).

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It can take a while to cook if you soak and boil your own chickpeas, which we always do at home, but if you use canned chickpeas this is a super quick dish to whip up for lunch.

The recipe is technically for four people but since last time I made half the batch for my mom and I, there wasn’t enough left for my mom (oops!), I will definitely be making a bigger batch next time. And even if there’s some leftover, you can keep it in the fridge and it’ll make a great leftover lunch or dinner the next day.

I served it with brown rice but you can serve it with any grain – millet, quinoa, basmati rice etc. or even with some crusty bread like sourdough or a baguette.

Forgot to mention – the stew itself is accidentally vegan and gluten free! (I love it when that happens hehee..)

It was based on this recipe I found on food&wine but I changed it up quite a bit 🙂

Spiced Chickpea & Spinach Stew

serves 4

  • 1.5 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • Pinch of saffron
  • 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin powder, pinch ground cloves, pinch black pepper, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1-2 tsp chili powder (adjust chili according to personal preference), 1/2 tsp salt
  • ~3 cups cooked chickpeas or two 15oz cans (reserve the water!)
  • 2.5 tbs olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 large tomato or two small, diced and the seeds removed
  • salt, to taste
  • handful sultanas/dates/raisins (I recommend sultanas)
  • 3 cups fresh spinach, chopped finely
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • fresh coriander/mint/parsley to top (optional)
  1. In a small bowl, mash the crushed garlic with the saffron and the spices. Add a couple tablespoons of the chickpea liquid.
  2. In a skillet or a deep pan, heat 1.5 tbs olive oil.
  3. Add the onion and tomatoes and stir on low heat until softened and browned.
  4. Add the spiced garlic paste and cook for another minute
  5. Pour in the chickpeas, 1.5 cups of their liquid (if there is no more liquid, use water or stock) and the sultanas
  6. Bring to a simmer and add in the spinach. Lower the heat a bit, and let simmer for around 2 minutes until spinach is fully cooked.
  7. Transfer to your serving dish and top with 1 tbs of the olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs.
  8. Serve with rice, quinoa, cous cous, millet or crusty bread.

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Presto Pesto

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The saying about only appreciating things when you don’t have them – so true.

When we moved to India, one of the biggest problems for me was getting used to the fact that lots of the fresh products I was used to getting in Singapore were just not available widely here. I mean, you can still get things like raspberries, blueberries, avocados and asparagus but you have to go to specialty ‘gourmet’ stores and they’re extremely overpriced. Things I had taken for granted like basil, I now relished.

But now that we’ve moved into our own house we have lots of fresh produce growing in our own garden! We have spinach, methi (fenugreek), basil, mini oranges…  So you would think that now I have an almost endless supply of fresh basil I would be using it 24/7. Right?

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But yeah… not so much. Since we’ve moved into the house (5 months) I think I’ve used basil approximately… 3 times. And in that time we have probably gone through 10-12 jars of store bought pesto. I know, I know. Disgraceful.

It’s just that the whole process seems like so much work. It’s easier to just buy a ready made jar and not think about it. But when I went out one day and saw that the basil plant was slowly drying up I decided it was time to change.

And I’m so glad I did! Making pesto is so easy – it takes practically 15 minutes and most of that time is spent getting the pesto out of the food processor! When you make your own pesto, you can alter the flavors to your liking and experiment with different nuts and even add in other herbs. Also the taste of fresh pesto exceeds store bought by a landslide!

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So no further ado.. here’s an amazing, customizable, pesto recipe inspired by love and lemons.

How to customize:

I always use 2/3 basil + 1/3 coriander because otherwise the basil flavor is a bit too strong, but feel free to use all basil or experiment with addition of other herbs like mint or arugula

For the nuts I used a combination of walnuts and almonds, but you can use any nuts – pistachios, hazelnuts, pecans.. Pine nuts are generally the best for pesto but I didn’t have any on hand 🙂

Add in some grated parmesan cheese, some nutritional yeast or a dash of balsamic vinegar for some extra kick. Most recipes also use black pepper but I prefer the taste without it. It’s a personal opinion though so if you like it – go for it!

Basil Pesto

(Makes around 1 cup)

  • 1 1/2 cup herbs
  • 1/4 cup nuts
  • 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and paprika/chili flakes
  1. Lightly toast the nuts in a small plan until lightly browned
  2. Add all the ingredients in a food processor until well blended
  3. Taste and adjust the salt or acidity if necessary. If too sour, add a splash of honey or agave syrup.

Enjoy!

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Sweet Potato & Spinach Curry with Millet & Arugula

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I love arugula. Call me weird, but the bitterness is appealing to me? It’s one of the only leaves I’ll have raw. Raw spinach? bleh. Lettuce? tasteless. collard? ew.

But I’m not exactly fond of salads. They’re not filling enough or they’re doused in way too sweet dressing or they’re bland. So instead I like my arugula on pizza or in dishes like this. This dish is absolutely complete. Soft, fluffy millet, warm spicy curry, mellow sweet potato, bright acidic cherry tomatoes and sharp arugula.

I recently discovered millet as a grain. Prior, I’d only had millet flour rotis which are very popular in India and ‘baajre ki khichdi’ which is a millet stew cooked traditionally in lots of indian ghee and milk or cream. I had never actually had millet by itself. But a few weeks ago my mom picked up a bag of organic mixed millet and I fell in love! Its softer and less chewy than grains like quinoa and brown rice. It also has milder, less nutty taste.

The next component of the dish is the curry! This is a spicy, improvised curry that I sort of made up as I went a long. It has garlic, onion, coconut milk and a generous dash of spices. The sweet potato really balances out the spiciness.

And last but not least, the cherry tomatoes. We don’t normally have cherry tomatoes at home because they’re not always available here. We have to go to speciality grocery stores and even then, they’re quite expensive. But boy are they worth it! They’re spunky and colorful and they just elevate the dish.

I really hope you try out this dish. Even if you don’t have all the components – improvise! No millet? Use rice or another similar grain. No arugula? Skip it, or another raw green. No cherry tomatoes? Use normal diced tomatoes! Don’t have all the spices? Use a store bought curry powder, garam masala or thai spice mix instead!Don’t like sweet potato or spinach? Use other veggies – normal potatoes would be fine and you can substitute in any other vegetable under the sun. Pumpkin or zucchini would be wonderful here!

Oh, and I forgot to mention – this is accidentally vegan 🙂

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Now on to the recipe!

Sweet Potato & Spinach curry

(makes 3 portions)

Ingredients:

  • olive/vegetable oil
  • 2/3 tablespoon diced garlic/garlic paste
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, diced
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 3 small or two medium sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 1.5 cup spinach (or just 2 handfuls) cleaned and chopped roughly
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds/cumin powder, 1/4 tsp fenugreek powder, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/2-1 tsp chili powder, dash of black pepper and salt to taste
  • 3-4 handfuls arugula, cleaned
  • cherry tomatoes, washed and halved
  • 2 cups cooked millet or any other grain

Directions:

  1. Heat some olive oil in a pan and when it’s hot, add in the garlic, onion and ginger.
  2. Keep mixing and when the onion and garlic are lightly browned, add in the sweet potato, around 1/2 cup water and 1/4 cup of the coconut milk.
  3. Cover and let simmer on low heat for around 15 minutes.
  4. Add in the spices and 1/4 cup more of the coconut milk, stir well
  5. Cook for another 10 minutes until the sweet potato is tender, stirring well throughout
  6. Add in the spices and the rest of the coconut milk, stir until the curry is thickened and the spinach is cooked (about a minute)
  7. Remove from heat
  8. Remove the stems from the arugula (unless you can take the bitter taste of the stems then leave them on) and arrange a handful on the plate
  9. Divide the millet into three portions and place a portion onto the plate
  10. Top with cherry tomatoes and a generous helping of the curry
  11. Squeeze some lemon juice on top if you’d like.
  12. Enjoy! 🙂

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Vegetable Hash and Fried Eggs

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I just realised that most of the recipes I post on this blog are breakfast recipes. So to solve that, y’all are going to have to make this for dinner. I don’t think that will be a problem – it’s delicious and it’s extremely healthy as it’s full of vegetables and protein.

This vegetable hash, although not very traditional, is bursting with flavor and more importantly, is super easy to whip up! You can double, triple or even quadriple the servings to suit yourself.

Use whatever vegetables you wish but I would avoid anything too soft like squash or greens.

Vegetable Hash

(2 servings)

Ingredients:

  • olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • pinch of garlic salt, black pepper, oregano and chilli flakes
  • 1.5 cup mixed vegetables (I suggest corn, baby corn, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes – whatever’s in season)
  • 2 eggs

Directions:

  1. Dice the onion, garlic and vegetables. Set aside.
  2. Heat around 2 tsp olive oil in a small pan and when it’s hot, add the garlic and onion.
  3. Saute until lightly browned and then add in the vegetables
  4. Add the hot sauce and spices
  5. Lower the heat and cover the vegetables
  6. Meanwhile lightly coat a flat pan with olive oil
  7. When it’s hot, crack in two eggs
  8. Sprinkle the top with black pepper
  9. Your vegetables should be done by now, serve them on a plate and place the fried eggs on top.

Feta-Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

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The perfect little appetizer. Mushrooms stuffed with a flavorful and hearty mixture of feta, spinach, onion and spices. Great to serve at a party or if you want to make something special for dinner. It’s quite an easy recipe but it does take a bit of effort to scoop filling into each of the mushrooms, so be ready for a bit of time in the kitchen. But the end product is definitely worth it!

I used button mushrooms, but I think large, succulent portabella ones would be amazing! A great way to not waste the mushroom stems is to chop them finely and add them to the filling!

Ingredients:

  • 6 ounce mushrooms (around 15 mushrooms), washed and destemmed
  • 1.5 cups spinach, washed and chopped finely
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or diced
  • 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 tsp oregano, chilli flakes according to taste
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
     

Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celcius

Chop mushroom stems finely

Heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil in a pan

Add onion and garlic and sautee until browned

Add spinach, mushroom stems and spices and cook for a few minutes until cooked

Arrange mushroom caps on a baking tray and scoop around a tablespoon of filling into each (I like piling it quite high, but be careful as you’re doing this.)

Drizzle the remaining olive oil on top of the stuffed mushrooms

Bake for 20-25 minutes until mushrooms are browned

Vegetarian Larb!

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I adore Thai food. Growing up in singapore, I got access to lots of amazing, authentic Thai cuisine and needless to say, I fell in love. Some of my favorites are Som Tum (raw papaya salad, Phad Thai, Khao Na Pla (Honey Sesame Fish), Red Curry and of course… Larb.

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Larb is traditionally made with minced meat, onions, ginger, garlic lime juice, mint and fish sauce but I decided to give it my own twist. Taking inspiration from this recipe, I made a vegetarian larb by using grated tofu, thai chilli sauce, soy sauce and adding lettuce to make it more vibrant.

Tofu Larb

1 serving

Ingredients
1 tsp oil (sesame, canola, vegetable or olive oil would all work well)
4 cloves garlic
1/2 onion
2 tsp ginger
1 tsp lime/lemon juice
1 tablespoon thai chilli sauce
1/2-1 tablespoon soy sauce (depending on taste)
100 gram tofu
handful mint or coriander or basil (I used coriander)
2 lettuce leaf

Directions
Grate tofu into fine bits or if it’s soft, you could mash it with your hands.
Dice ginger, garlic and onion
Cut Lettuce into threads
Heat oil in a skillet
Add ginger, garlic and onion and cook until browned, stirring throughout
Add tofu, soy sauce and chilli sauce and mix everything well
Cook for a few minutes until tofu is cooked

Add herbs, lettuce and lime juice and mix everything well before serving

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