Braised Spiced Chickpeas 
with Swiss Chard & Sweet Potatoes

Try my delicious veg & fruit packed stew recently featured in Clean Eating Magazine!

braised-spiced-chickpeas-with-swiss-chard-sweet-potatoes

photo by Ronald Tsang

Braised Spiced Chickpeas 
with Swiss Chard & Sweet Potatoes

 

Yield: 6 servings

 

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 medium yellow onions, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

2 small fennel bulbs, stems and bottoms removed, diced small (2½ cups)

¼ kosher salt, plus more to taste

7 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon orange zest, grated on a Microplane

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (3 cups)

3-ounces dried figs, tough stems removed and quartered (9 figs)

3-ounces dried apricots, chopped roughly (11 apricots)

3-ounces dried plums, chopped roughly (12 plums)

1 tablespoon honey

2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained

3 cups low sodium chicken stock

1 pound rainbow chard (leaves and stems), chopped roughly

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

 

Add the olive oil, onions, fennel and ¼ teaspoon salt to a 5.5 quart dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until soft and translucent, 10 to 12 minutes.

Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, cinnamon and orange zest. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the sweet potatoes, dried fruit, honey, chickpeas and chicken stock. Cover and increase the heat to medium high to bring to a boil. Once at a boil, reduce the heat to medium low. Cook for approximately 10 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are barely tender.

Stir in the chard. Cook, uncovered, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the greens are tender.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serve in bowls and top with fresh cilantro for a delicious garnish. (Pairs well with brown rice, quinoa, chicken, etc.) Tip: make this dish vegetarian by swapping out the chicken stock for veg stock.

Vegetarian Bulgur Chili

It’s cozy, flavorful and healthy… a perfect combination for a happy new year!

vegetarian-bulgur-chili

Vegetarian Bulgur Chili

Yield: 4 to 6 servings

 

4 cups vegetable stock, divided

1 cup bulgur

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

4 sprigs of fresh thyme, tied together with butcher’s twine

5 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped roughly (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon double concentrated tomato paste

½ teaspoons chili powder

½ teaspoon ancho chili powder

¾ teaspoon ground allspice

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

⅛ teaspoon ground chipotle, or to taste

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1 tablespoons natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

1 tablespoon vegan Worcestershire sauce

1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste

2 (15-ounce) can beans (combination of red kidney beans, black beans, and/or pinto beans) rinsed and drained

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¼ cup crème fraiche or sour cream, optional

 

Add 2 cups of the vegetable stock and 1 cup bulgur to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 12 to 15 minutes until bulgur has absorbed the water and is al dente. (You may need to drain water out to prevent overcooking or add a little water to prevent undercooking.) Set aside when finished cooking.

Add 3 tablespoons oil, the onions and thyme to a small pot set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are soft and translucent.

Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

Stir in the chili powder, ancho powder, allspice, cinnamon, cumin, chipotle, 1 teaspoon salt, unsweetened cocoa, tomatoes, Worcestershire, vinegar, remaining stock, and beans. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to remove any brown bits.

Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for 30 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, while the chili simmers slowly.

Stir in 1 cup of the cooked bulgur and remove from heat. Remove the thyme bundle and season to taste with salt, pepper and an additional dash of apple cider vinegar.

Divide into bowls, top with a dollop of crème fraiche and serve.

Other topping suggestions: fresh cilantro, cheddar cheese, avocado…

Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies – Drought Friendly – aka vegan

In the mood for something a little sweet and chocolatey? But healthy, right?!, because chocolate is an antioxidant and peanut butter is full of protein… right… YES! Try these Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies. Another recipe from our continuing Drought Friendly Recipe project.

Choc PB Cookies Drought Friendly

Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Chunk Cookies

Yield: 14 cookies

 

1 tablespoon flaxseed meal (ground flax seed)

5 tablespoons water

½ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup cocoa powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup chunky peanut butter

1 cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

 

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small bowl, mix to combine the flax seed and water. Stir and let rest for at least 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix to combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

Mix the peanut butter with the brown sugar on low speed in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment for approximately 3 minutes. Add in the vanilla and flax/water mixture. Mix to combine. Add flour/cocoa mixture and mix until just combined, approximately 1 minute. The texture should be like play-doh. (Do not over mix.)

Using your hands, form cookies into 1½-inch sized balls and place, evenly spaced, on a parchment lined sheet pan. Place no more than 9 per sheet tray.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Using the back of a flat spatula, gently press cookies down to form a disc shape.

Let cool completely on sheet pan so cookies firm up before eating.

Veggie Burger

It’s summertime and that means burgers! Therefore, for our next Drought Friendly Recipe, we bring you a delicious, hearty and umami packed (thank you, mushrooms) veggie burger. This recipes makes thirteen 1/4 pound burgers. Now, if it were beef we were using, that would mean a serious water footprint. According to the LA Times, it takes 1,799 gallons of water to make 1 pound of beef. So, again, if this recipe were using beef, it would take a little over 5,800 gallons of water to produce thirteen 1/4 pound burgers. Good thing this recipe is comprised of veggies and grains. When you calculate the water footprint of this recipe as is, it comes out to something around 800 gallons of water or around 1/7 of the water used for a beef burger. So, how about swapping in this recipe for your next burger night? Bonus: you can make the burger mix in advance and then cook the pattys off when the time comes. Enjoy!

veggie onions

Spreading out the caramelized onion on a parchment-lined sheet tray to cool

veggie burger mushroom

1/2 batch of quartered mushrooms ready for pulsing

mushrooms chopped veggie burger

Good texture for the mushrooms

mushroom onions veggie burger

Spreading the roasted mushrooms over the cooled caramelized onions

rice lentil veggie burger

Rice/Bulgur/Lentil mixture

spices veggie burger

Spices!

veggie burger

Brushing the burgers with oil before putting them in the pan

Veggie Burger Overhead

Time to eat.

Drought Friendly Veggie Burgers

Yield: 13 burgers

 

¼ cup grapeseed oil, divided, plus more for brushing

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

20 large cloves garlic, peeled and chopped roughly (1/2 cup)

24-ounces cremini mushrooms, quartered

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, plus more to taste

4 cups vegetable stock

¼ cup white jasmine rice

½ cup black (beluga) lentils

¾ cup bulgur

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, undrained

1 cup panko

1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano

½ teaspoon chipotle powder

1 tablespoon soy sauce

2 tablespoons vegan worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon ground fennel

1 teaspoon ground cumin

The Fixin’s:

13 burger buns

13 large slices tomato

Lettuce (your choice!)

Pickled shallots

Organic ketchup, no question

Dijon mustard, gotta’ have mustard too

 

Place an oven rack to the upper position and preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Add the onion, 2 tablespoons oil and ¼ teaspoon salt to a medium (3½ quart) saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, for approximately 8 minutes until onions are translucent and just beginning to brown. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and spread the onion mixture over a parchment-lined sheet tray to cool. Do not wash the saucepan.

In a food processor, pulse half the mushrooms until finely chopped, approximately 30 quick pulses. Transfer mushrooms to a medium mixing bowl and pulse the remaining mushrooms in the same way. Transfer remaining mushrooms to the medium mixing bowl. Do not wash food processor.

Stir to combine the chopped mushrooms with 2 tablespoons of grapeseed oil, ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Spread the mushrooms evenly over a parchment-lined sheet tray. Transfer sheet tray to the oven and bake for 30 minutes, stirring once after 15 minutes. Remove the sheet tray from the oven and evenly spread the mushrooms over the onions to cool to room temperature.

In the same medium (3½ quart) saucepan used for the onion mixture, add the stock. Place over high heat and bring to a boil. Add rice, black lentils, bulgur, black beans (with liquid), ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Stir to combine and bring to a boil again. Cover with a lid, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes (scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent burning). Remove from the heat and drain excess liquid using a fine mesh strainer. Spread strained rice mixture evenly over a parchment-lined sheet tray and cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, using a fork, stir to combine the cooked mushrooms, cooked rice mixture, panko, dried oregano, chipotle powder, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, fennel and cumin. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Put half of the mixture into a food processor and pulse 15 times until mixture is well combined. Transfer the processed batch back into the large mixing bowl and stir everything together until well mixed.

Using a ½ cup measuring cup, measure out ½ cup of mixture per burger, shaping the burgers with your hands into 4-inch (diameter) patties. Set each burger on a parchment-lined sheet tray and brush the top of each burger evenly with some oil.

Heat a large non-stick pan over medium heat for 3 minutes. Transfer the prepared burgers, oil side down, into the pan and cook undisturbed for 3 minutes. Brush the second side of the burgers with oil and then flip the burgers over. Continue to cook for an additional 3 minutes. Transfer the cooked burgers to a parchment-lined sheet tray and bake for 10 minutes. Flip the burgers and continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the sheet tray from the oven. Serve burgers on buns with tomato slices, lettuce, pickled shallots, ketchup and mustard.

Drought Friendly Vegan Migas

A longer story covering our (Super Sous and my) Drought Friendly Recipes has been posted on the Central Valley NPR site and is  running on KVPR!

Screen Shot 2015-05-21 at 9.47.32 AMPLUS~here’s a NEW Drought Friendly Recipe that Super Sous has created. Being from Texas, Super Sous gets a hankering for Tex Mex now and again. The other day, she was craving migas, which in Tex Mex language is a scrambled eggs dish made with tortilla chips. To make it drought friendly, Super Sous subbed crumbled organic tofu for the eggs. The rest is all veggie and spice goodness. Enjoy!

Migas1

Sauteing the onions, bell pepper, potatoes and poblano.

Migas2

Tofu Potato Migas

 

Drought Friendly Tofu Potato Migas

Yield: 4 servings

 

2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced small (2 cups)

1 large red bell pepper, diced small (1 cup)

½ pound potatoes, scrubbed and diced small

1 small poblano pepper, seeded, deveined and diced small

4 2-inch sprigs fresh thyme

1½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced (1½ tablespoons)

1½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon Hungarian paprika

1 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground coriander

¼ teaspoon ground chipotle powder

1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained

14-ounces organic extra firm tofu, patted dry and crumbled

1¼ cup broken organic corn tortilla chips

1 lime, halved

2 haas avocados, pitted and thinly sliced

½ cup picked fresh cilantro leaves

1 bottle of your favorite hot sauce

1 jar or batch of your favorite salsa, optional (try my tomatillo tomato salsa)

 

Place a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high heat and add oil. Let heat for 1 minute until hot. Add onion, red bell pepper, potato, poblano, thyme sprigs, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are cooked through, approximately 15 minutes.

Add garlic, cumin, paprika, turmeric, coriander and chipotle powder. Stir and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.

Add tomatoes. Stir and cook for 1 minute, until liquid has mostly evaporated. Add tofu, stir and cook for 5 additional minutes.

Turn off heat. Add in tortilla chips, squeeze over half a lime, stir to combine and season to taste with salt, pepper and additional lime as needed. Remove thyme sprigs.

Serve on plates with slices of avocado, cilantro, a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce and some salsa.

Not Too Spicy Green Papaya Salad

(Hey! Update to this post – you can watch me make this salad on my YouTube page. Thanks and now back to the blog…)

California drought friendly and delicious, this papaya salad is a refreshing, bright, crunchy, herbaceous and spicy (not too spicy!) dish, perfect for warm weather months.

Super Sous and I traveled to Vietnam in February, our first stop being Hanoi, the capital city in the North. Upon arrival, we immediately arranged a street food tour of the Old Quarter of Hanoi (where we were staying). Our wonderful guide, Tam, took us on a whirlwind food extravaganza through the streets, alleys and hidden corridors to eat some of the best food Hanoi has to offer. From classics like Bun Cha to Egg Coffee to Beef Pho we ate A LOT, probably hitting up 7 different street food vendors/restaurants within the 3 hours of wandering.

Our third stop for the night was at a spot that served the best Papaya Salad we have ever had. At first, Super Sous and I were a little nervous about this dish as papaya salads we have eaten in Thai restaurants have been extremely spicy, but this salad was the perfect blend and balance of sweet, sour and spice. It was then that Super Sous and I fell in love with the Vietnamese papaya salad and despite our best efforts to not overeat and pace ourselves that evening, we couldn’t resist finishing off the whole salad.

Tam NL SS

Me, Tam – our street food tour guide – and Super Sous

Upon returning to California, we created our own version which comes pretty close to our experience. A note about the green papaya – you can find these in an Asian grocery store. (Sometimes they even have it pre-shredded in bags – score!) To shred yourself, cut in half, peel the section you want to use and shred using a citrus zester (photo below), a “noodler” (the instrument that makes zucchini noodles) a food processor (with the shredding attachment) or a box grater.

Citrus Zester

Citrus Zester

Now, a note about drought friendly recipes: Super Sous and I started the project of creating drought friendly recipes as a way for all of us around the country to help conserve California’s water. What I love about this recipe is the use of Virginia peanuts. They are so good! (It wouldn’t at all have anything to do with me being a Native Virginian…) Peanuts are a groundnut and therefore do not grow like almonds or walnuts in large orchards that require a lot of watering. Peanuts are a good source of protein and with their low water footprint, are a great alternative to almonds. According to the Water Footprint Organization, it takes 381 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of peanuts, whereas almonds require 6 times that amount. So, yay for peanuts!

green papaya salad

Green Papaya Salad

Yields: 2 servings

 

Dressing:

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

¾ teaspoon freshly grated ginger, grated on a microplane

½ teaspoon freshly grated garlic, grated on a microplane

2 teaspoons minced lemongrass

¼ Bird’s eye aka Thai chili, finely chopped

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

 

Salad:

2 cups packed shredded green papaya

¼ cup grated carrot (1 medium carrot)

½ cup thinly sliced green beans, sliced on a bias (8 beans)

3 tablespoons whole toasted peanuts

½ cup quartered grape tomatoes (7 tomatoes)

¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves

¼ cup fresh Thai basil leaves

¼ cup fresh mint leaves

 

Combine dressing ingredients in a medium mixing bowl and let sit for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally so the sugar dissolves.

Add papaya, carrot and green beans to dressing and massage ingredients together with your hands for approximately 30 seconds, to meld all flavors and allow dressing to permeate papaya.

Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Divide onto plates and serve.

Lentil Stew with Spicy Sausage and Kale

Cold day. Warm Soup. Enough said.

Lentil Stew with Spicy Sausage and Kale

Lentil Stew with Spicy Sausage and Kale

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

 

1 bunch curly kale

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 large yellow onions, peeled and diced small (3 cups)

5 medium carrots, peeled and chopped roughly (2½ cups)

4 stalks celery, chopped roughly (2 cups)

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and minced (2 tablespoons)

1 tablespoon yellow curry powder

½ pound fresh spicy Italian or fennel sausage (pork or turkey), removed from casing, approximately 2 to 3 links

1 (24-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, preferably fire-roasted

3 small dried bay leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

1⅓ cups green (Puy) lentils, rinsed and picked over for small pebbles

8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, not pre-grated, for serving

 

Strip the tender leaves from the tough stems of the kale; discard the stems. Rinse the leaves, then chop roughly. You should have approximately 6 packed cups of kale.

Add ¼ cup olive oil, the onions, carrots, and celery to a small pot set over medium-high heat. Season lightly with salt and pepper, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the celery begins to soften.

Add the garlic, curry, and sausage. Cook, breaking up the sausage into small pieces with the back of a spoon, until the sausage is mostly cooked through, 5 minutes. At this point your kitchen should smell insanely good.

Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, lentils, kale and the stock. The stock should just barely cover the kale. Stir it all together.

Cover with a lid, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, until the lentils are just tender. The consistency should be like a thick soup, so add a bit of water to thin it out if the lentils are not quite cooked at this point.

Once the lentils are tender, remove from the heat and stir in the salt, pepper, and vinegar. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Serve in soup bowls, and shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano on top with vegetable peeler. Grab a spoon and go crazy.

Note: If your sausage is on the spicy side, add a dollop of crème fraîche to take the edge off the heat.