Sunday, August 31, 2008

African Chickpea and Spinach Soup

I have been subscribing to Vegetarian Times for almost two years now and, sadly, have yet to make a single recipe from any issue.

That is, until tonight. I've been saving my soon-to-spoil herbs, stalks, peels and more for a few weeks and decided it was time to make some veggie broth -- if for no other reason than the refrigerator at the new house is teeny so it was fighting veggie burgers and ice cube trays for space.

I filled a pot with my two gallon-sized Ziploc bags full of vegetable scraps and let it simmer for about five hours, then let it cool for another hour or so. It made almost 20 cups of broth! Most of it is in plastic bags in the freezer...

Out of three contenders I was deciding between, I realized I had 95 percent of the ingredients for the African Chickpea and Spinach Soup from the March 2007 issue so that's what won. That and the fact that it sounded goooood.

I just finished making it and -- holy cow -- did I choose wisely. A brief taste test is all I have experienced, but it's really good. In a way that's a little unexpected. One of those recipes that just works, but you can't figure out what your favorite part is. It almost doesn't make sense, but that's OK -- it's delicious nonsense.

Here it is:

2 tsp. olive oil
1 med. onion, chopped (about 1 c.)
1 clove minced garlic -- about 1 tsp (I used 2 because I love garlic)
1/4 c. smooth natural peanut butter (I only had Jiff, which seems to have worked fine)
2 c. low sodium vegetable broth (or no sodium, if you make your own)
1 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (I added a touch more for extra kick)
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 14 oz. an of diced tomatoes
2 oz. spinach chopped (about 2 c.)

1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute 5 minutes, or until soft and golden. Add garlic and cook 2-3 minutes more, or until garlic is lightly browned.

2. Blend peanut butter and 1/2 c. broth in food processor to make smooth paste. (Note: I don't see how this could be a paste. Maybe with natural peanut butter? It made peanut butter liquid for me, which seems to have turned out fine. Maybe it's because I just used a whisk instead of putting it in a food processor.) Blend in remaining 1 1/2 c. of broth.

3. Add paprika, coriander and cayenne into onion mixture and saute about 1 minute, until fragrant. Stir in peanut butter mixture, chickpeas and tomatoes.

4. Simmer 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in spinach just before serving. (Although I don't intend to eat it until tomorrow, I chopped up about 1/2 a bag of spinach and added it. I'm guessing it will hold up just fine until tomorrow).

According to Veg Times, per serving:
257 calories
11 grams protein
13 grams total fat (2 g. saturated fat)
28 grams carbohydrates
581 milligrams sodium
9 grams fiber
9 grams sugar

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Guest Post: Chilaquiles

We've got a guest post from former Royal Oakian and new Torontan Tara Dziurman, who made chilaquiles (or a version of them she came across) last weekend and has morphed it into brunches and other meals she's continued to eat daily since.

Thanks for Tara for sharing! I can't wait to make it.

So I think there are a variety of different kinds of chilaquiles, but the one I made is like a Mexican lasagna. I made some improvisations to the recipe I found (some because I wanted to, some because Canadian grocery stores aren't quite up to par with what's available in Detroit).

This is what I ended up doing:
Half of a large onion (diced)
1 Large zucchini (diced)
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can black beans
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 can sliced jalapenos (then chopped)
2 cans enchilada sauce (regular sized - 10 oz??)
Shredded cheddar cheese (I used a cheddar / mozzarella mix because it was cheaper)
12 Corn tortillas - quartered (Canadian grocery stores don't carry corn tortillas so I used multi-grain tortillas meant for wraps. I figured the texture was closer than flour tortillas. Also the package had 8 so I used 8 and it was fine)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Brown onion in a pan, once browned add zucchini, tomatoes, beans, cumin and jalapenos. (recipe actually called for corn and I substituted it with jalapenos because I like spice, the fresh corn was crap, and I didn't feel like dealing with the frozen stuff). Cook for about 3 minutes.
Take a baking dish (I used 8 x 8, but the recipe called for 13 x 9. My chilaquiles just came out really deep) and line it with some (half?) of the quartered tortillas.

Spoon in half the veggie mixture, pour on half the enchilada sauce and sprinkle as much cheese (cheese substitute?) as you want.

Then layer with the rest of the tortillas, then the veggie mixture, then the rest of the sauce. I made my two tortilla layers rather thin so I added a layer at the top with what was left of the tortillas.

Then sprinkled cheese on top of that. I think this made it sit better, so when you cut squares they were more apt to stay in tact.
Pop into oven covered in foil for 15 min. Then remove the foil and cook for another 10 min so the cheese can get bubbly.
I cutup avocado slices to have on the side, which was yum-o!
Next day scrambled some eggs, and made it into brunch.
It was so easy to make this and I love how you can use whatever veggies you want but provides a Mexican craving fix. There really aren't any Mexican restaurants in Toronto, can you believe that?!

- Tara

Saturday, August 2, 2008

I promise...

Not to post something every time I notice something new growing. But overnight, five new tomatoes cropped up as well as my first pepper! It's very exciting. You have to admit.