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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Asian Wild Rice with Vegetables

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A wonderful palette of flavors and textures in this dish. Who knew something so healthy and nutritious could taste so good?

Feel free to mix up the veggies in this, but I love the combination of these because there is such a variety in size and crunch. The wild black rice is crunchy while the brown rice is hearty and nutty, the mushrooms and peas are soft and sweet while the carrot and cabbage blend in perfectly with the chewy (in a good way!) rice.

This dish is extremely high in protein, fibre, vitamin A, manganese, vitamin C and iron all the while being comforting and delicious!

Asian Wild Rice with Vegetables

(serves 2-3)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dry brown rice
  • 1/3 cup dry wild rice
  • 1/2 packet button mushrooms, chopped finely
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup finely diced cabbage
  • handful peas
  • 1.5 tsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoon soy sauce
  • chili powder, according to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey

Cook the rice according to instructions or just boil for 30-40 minutes until cooked.

Meanwhile, wash and chop the vegetables.

Heat a wok or a large pan and spread the olive oil

When the oil is hot add the garlic and onion and sauté until browned. Add the peas and cabbage and cook for a minute and then add in the mushrooms and carrot. Add the soy sauce, honey and chili powder and cook for a few minutes, mixing well.

Add the rice, mix everything again and then cover the pan to let everything cook for a few minutes.

Remove from heat and serve hot.

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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