This nut free and gluten free granola will change your life forever. Seriously.Read More
Around this time last year, my husband and I were back in America. We had just sold all our remaining possessions in Seattle and were embarking on the second leg of our journey, a "farewell America" tour of sorts to New York, Maine, then down to Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina and finishing in California.
In some cities (like New York or LA) we expected great food, but some others we had lower expectations for really ended up impressing us. Raleigh, NC was one such city that wasn’t on our radar as a foodie town, but ended up having so many gems. One brunch restaurant we tried was Beasley’s Chicken & Honey, which as you might have guessed by the name was elevated soul food, fried chicken & waffles the specialty. Of course we ordered what they were famous for, but we also tried a variety of sides, including a mac and cheese custard situation I am still dreaming about and a green cabbage slaw with roasted tomatoes and malt aioli which is what inspired this recipe.
At the time, I was apprehensive about the idea of tomatoes in a coleslaw. Roasted ones at that? In a slaw? I really had never had a coleslaw with tomatoes and was there a reason for that, I wondered? Like maybe it shouldn’t be done? I confessed all my concerns to both the waiter and my husband, who both assured me that I should try it if I was so curious and if I don’t like it we could always get something else, and basically it’s a $3.00 side, not a life partner, so we should move on with our lives and make a decision. The chicken and waffles were of course amazing, but what I was still thinking about days, weeks, and months later was that slaw! Creamy, crunchy, but simple, with the sweetness and smokiness of the roasted tomatoes, and super zingy from the Malt vinegar. I knew I wanted to try making my own version of this at home so I could enjoy those flavors again and again and again.
Although what I love about this recipe is its simplicity, it’s also infinitely adaptable. You could add in shredded carrots, shaved fennel, or whatever other onion or herb you fancy. If you have cherry tomatoes, you could absolutely use those instead. I opted for the larger tomatoes so they would be easier to de-seed, as I didn’t want a lot of tomato seeds in my slaw, so just keep that in mind if roasting cherry tomatoes. When assembling your slaw, all your ingredients should be chilled, and the tomatoes completely cooled after roasting to encourage a nice crisp, crunchy slaw. There is way less sugar in this slaw than would be traditionally in a coleslaw because I personally like slaws to be unmistakably savory and have also added a little yogurt to the dressing to reduce the amount of mayo without taking away any creaminess. Although technically the fennel seeds are optional, please don't skip them. They are really, really good in this.
The other reason I’m so excited about this recipe is because it’s part of another seasonal collaboration! Annie and Rebecca & Ruth invited me to another quarterly collab of food bloggers and this time the theme was TOMATOES, so I knew exactly what recipe I wanted to contribute. Late summer tomatoes, is there really anything better? It’s a fun group of bloggers, all bringing a different, creative dish to the virtual table, so if you’re on IG, make sure you check out the hashtag #wesaytomatoes for some awesome inspo and recipes featuring tomatoes in every way you can imagine. There are close to 70 of us participating so there are too many to link here, but here are just a handful that sound amazing to me:
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
1 large head (about 1 lbs) of cabbage, thinly sliced or 16oz pre-shredded
2 large beefsteak or heirloom tomatoes, de-seeded and diced (about 1.5 cups)
2 tsp olive oil
pinch salt & pepper
3-4 scallions, thinly sliced
FOR THE DRESSING
1/3 cup mayo
2 Tbs plain full-fat yogurt or sour cream
2 Tbs malt vinegar
1.5 tsp sugar
1.5 tsp celery seeds
1 Tbs fennel seeds
salt to taste
WHAT YOU'LL DO
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Toss your de-seeded diced tomatoes with the 2 tsp of olive oil and sprinkle of salt and pepper and spread in an even layer on a parchment lined baking sheet or baking dish. Roast your tomatoes for 15-20 mins, until soft and caramelized, nearly charred on some edges. Remove and completely cool.
Put your fennel seeds in a dry pan, preheated on medium heat and toast for a few minutes until fragrant. Transfer to a mortar & pestle and crush lightly, not to a powder but until many of the pods are broken. Set aside.
Combine your cabbage and scallions in a large bowl. Once the tomatoes are completely cooled, add those in.
To make your dressing, combine all the remaining ingredients (mayo, yogurt, malt vinegar, sugar, celery seed, & toasted fennel seeds in a small bowl, whisk until smooth. Add salt to taste. Pour the dressing over the slaw, toss to combine, and serve immediately.
I’m a crunchy slaw girl, as in, I don’t like it when it gets soft in the slightest, so I recommend consuming it within an hour, but my husband ate the slaw the next day after being refrigerated overnight and said the flavors were even better and the cabbage was still crunchy enough to his liking so I think it really comes down to personal preference.
Confession: I don’t love quinoa. I know it’s good for you, and I’ve tried to make myself like it. But I just don’t. That is, until I made this salad. In this salad, I actually love quinoa. Some years ago, I was working as a personal chef for a vegetarian family and in looking for inspiration, came across this Food and Wine recipe and decided to adapt it to make my own similar version. I had never been a fan of quinoa because I felt like it had an earthy (as in dirty, not umami) taste and when I’d had it prepared, it was usually terribly under seasoned. That’s why this salad is the savior of quinoa haters. Because there are so many incredible, bold spices in this, it completely masks the “funk” of quinoa and it’s aggressively seasoned so it’s not just a boring, healthy grain bowl that you eat just because it's good for you and not because you actually want to. You will WANT to eat quinoa in this salad from here to eternity, I promise you.
First you’ll make a spice mix that includes really delicious warming spices like cardamom, cinnamon, smoked paprika, cayenne, and ginger, and then that spice mix gets distributed into every element of the salad… tossed with the carrots, onions, and fennel before roasting, into the quinoa as it cooks, as well as in the salad dressing, so every bite is packed with flavor. There is some maple syrup in the dressing as well as dried fruit to give it delightful flashes of sweetness, lemon juice for a subtle tang, toasted pine nuts for crunch and nuttiness, and then parsley and micro greens to finish and brighten it up.
Aaaand as a bonus, this salad is allergen friendly, gluten free and vegan! Oddly enough, I do have a few friends that are allergic to quinoa, and if that’s the case with you, wheat berries, farro, pearled barley, brown rice, or couscous would also work well in the place of quinoa here. I traditionally roast fennel with the carrots because I think it adds an awesome flavor and texture that really works in this salad, but if you want to use another vegetable in it’s place or just use carrots to keep it more simple, that would be fine! It will be hard to mess up this salad and adapting it to suit your preferences should be easy.
This post is my contribution to another big collaboration of bloggers celebrating a seasonal ingredient and this time the theme was carrots! When Rebecca from and Annie from reached out to me to ask me to be part of this combined effort, I immediately knew I wanted to make this salad for it.
There are too many amazing recipes to mention, as we have about 70 participants, but here are just a few titles that caught my eye:
And if you want more inspiration, you can see more carrot recipes by using the hashtag on Instagram #24carrotgoals. Come check it out if you’re on IG!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
300 grams/ 2/3 lbs fingerling carrots, halved lengthwise (or about 3 large, cut into pieces roughly the size of your pinky)
1 large bulb of fennel, stalks removed and thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced into half-moons
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup uncooked tri-color quinoa
2 tsp spice mix
1/3 cup dried cranberries or cherries
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
2 Tbs flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
microgreens and/or arugula, for serving
1 Tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp honey or maple syrup
1 tsp dijon
3 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp spice mix
1/2 tsp salt
WHAT YOU'LL DO
Preheat the oven to 400 F / 200 C.
In a small bowl, whisk the ingredients for your spice mix.
In a medium bowl, toss the sliced carrots, fennel, and onion with 2 Tbs olive oil. Add 2 Tbs of the spice mix and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer and roast for roughly 20- 25 minutes, stirring to redistribute from the edges at least once. When tender and caramelized, remove and let the vegetables cool on the pan.
Meanwhile, in a small pot or medium saucepan with lid, combine the quinoa with 2 tsp of the spice mix and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, uncovered, on medium-high heat. Once at a rolling boil, turn your heat down to low, simmer, and cover until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 15-20 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and let cool.
Combine all your ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified. Set aside.
Transfer your cooled quinoa to a larger mixing bowl. Add your cranberries and pine nuts along with the chopped parsely. Then add the roasted carrots, fennel, and onion to the bowl. Mix to combine. Pour in your dressing and mix to combine again. Taste and season with more salt, if needed. At this point the salad keeps well for days in the refrigerator.
Top with micro greens and serve over a bed of arugula, if desired.
If not serving immediately or making this salad to enjoy for lunch over multiple days, keep the greens separate so they don’t wilt. This salad is best served at room temperature and serves 4.
As some of you may know, my husband and I went back to the U.S. this last July through September basically to pack up our house, sell everything we own, and do a little 'Farewell America' tour. We spent a month in Seattle saying goodbye to all our friends and posessions, then spent another month, divided between the NE (New York & Maine), the SE (Florida, Georgia, & the Carolinas), and the SW (SoCal & Mexico). Needless to say it was a whirlwind tour: we slept on a lot of futons, spent quality time with a lot of people, and ate a LOT of good food. Wouldn't have had it any other way.
We hit a lot of foodie cities on our tour, but for sure the unexpected highlight was Portland, Maine. It actually reminds me of the NE version of Portland, Oregon, except it's even smaller which is what makes the high concentration of artisan everything more impressive. Everywhere we ate could (should) be a blog post in itself. But one place we frequented almost daily was Tandem Coffee Roasters. They had amazing coffee but also a pastry selection that blew my mind.
I can still picture the lineup in my mind: chocolate loaf with paprika peanut butter frosting, loaded biscuits with homemade jam, spelt and coconut tea cake and…. the Everything Bagel Scones. Pure genius. My two go-to choices for breakfast on the go, conveniently combined into one. Perfect domed wedge scones, with an everything bagel crusted lid. When I broke it open, I was delighted to find the everything bagel seasoning distributed throughout the inside, as well. Little pockets of cream cheese tucked into every other bite, a welcome surprise. Savory, with a vague and appropriate sweetness. Dense and moist but still crumbly. I devoured it, and vowed (out loud) to my husband I would try to recreate these to the best of my ability when we returned to Thailand.
And so I did.
So here we are! Now you can enjoy all that you crave from a bagel—lets be honest, its mostly the cream cheese and crunchy seasoned lid—in a scone, anytime you want! I like to think that even the bakery team at Tandem would be proud of what I’ve accomplished here. Since I did not have their recipe, only a distant, delicious memory to go off of, I was prepared to embark down a long road of tweaking and testing. But honest to goodness these were perfect on the first try.
Even though I am bringing the scones to you, I still highly recommend a trip to Portland, Maine if you can swing it. Bring your stretchy pants and eat your way through the city like its your job. Thanks again to Tandem Coffee for the inspo!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
2 cups flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 Tbs sugar
4 Tbs everything bagel seasoning*, divided
10 Tbs unsalted butter, very cold
1/2 cup cream + 1 Tbs, for brushing
3 oz (85 grams) cream cheese, very cold
3 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
*Personally, I used “Everything But the Bagel” seasoning from Trader Joes that I brought back with me from America. If you don’t have access to a Trader Joes or don’t live in the United States, here’s a recipe to make your own bagel seasoning for this recipe. Or for anything.
In a small bowl, mix 2 tsp each (makes 4 Tbs) :
Black sesame seeds
White sesame seeds
Dried onion (flakes not powder)
Dried garlic (flakes not powder)
WHAT YOU'LL DO
First, put your cream cheese and butter in the freezer to get extra cold. This will help you cut it and keep its shape in the scone mix.
Next preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium sized bowl mix your flour, baking powder, half (2 Tbs) of your everything bagel seasoning, and sugar. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk your eggs and cream. Set aside.
Remove your butter from the freezer. Cut into small cubes (or alternately grate it on a cheese grater) and add to the flour mixture. Using a pastry cutter or your hands, cut in the butter until you have small, smashed pea sized bits of butter remaining.
Remove your cream cheese from the freezer. Dice into small 1/4-1/2 inch cubes. Toss gently into the butter & flour mixture and toss to coat and evenly distribute the cream cheese pieces. Add in the chopped scallions and do the same.
Lastly, add in the egg and cream mixture. Mix with a few turns of a spatula, until the dry ingredients are moistened and the dough comes together but don’t overmix.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently if the dough doesn’t stick together. With floured hands, shape into a flattened circle. Cut the circle into quarters and then in half again to form 8 wedges.
Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet at least 2 inches apart from each other. Brush the tops with a pastry brush dipped into the remaining tablespoon of cream (or milk if you prefer).
Then sprinkle your remaining 2 Tbs of Everything Bagel seasoning on the tops of the brushed scones.
Bake for 14-15 minutes, or until golden and crisp on edges.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool. These are best enjoyed slightly warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from this recipe via Food52
This recipe is due entirely to popular demand. The story goes: Every week I try to make sure I have a fresh batch of hummus along with baggies of prepped vegetables so that when my husband opens up the fridge looking for a snack he hopefully reaches for the healthy option because it’s already there and made. We are all creatures of convenience, but I really like the guy so I’m always doing what I can to help him live as long as possible.
I normally make hummus using chickpeas, but when I went to whip up a batch one afternoon, all I had were lentils on hand. I love lentils and love switching things up, so I made this batch of hummus with the lentils, plated it with some herbs and gomasio, snapped a few quick photos, and posted it to Instagram. I thought it was pretty enough, but I never expected how much attention it got! It appears to be the most popular photo I’ve ever posted on social media and got re-featured multiple times. You never know what will get people excited I guess! Who would have thought the humble “Lentil hummus with lemony, herby vibes” would be the best seller? But I got flooded with comments and direct messages of people looking for the recipe on my site but unable to find it. This is a good problem to have.
Truth be told, making something just to eat it and making something to blog about it are not the same process. The first time I made the hummus, it wasn’t with the view to sharing the recipe so I didn’t bother measuring or keeping track of my steps, or taking any additional snapshots of the process or ingredients, something that is typically expected on blog posts.
So I remade it and actually recorded the recipe this time for the express purpose of sharing it with you fine folk.
Without further ado, here it is!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
1 (400 gram) can cooked lentils, drained & rinsed
(or 1 1/3 cup cooked lentils)
2 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 tsp kosher salt
1.5 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbs tahini
1 Tbs good quality olive oil
1/2 Tbs water
Optional Toppings :
Roughly chopped fresh herbs (I used basil, dill, & green onion. Use what you have or love)
Gomasio (toasted sesame seeds + sea salt)
a good glug of olive oil
WHAT YOU'LL DO
Combine the cooked lentils (reserving a spoonful for garnish if you desire), tahini, lemon juice, salt, and garlic in a food processor. Pulse a few times until it is a consistent, thick mash and most of the lentils are smashed. Then add your olive oil, running the machine now on a setting that will puree it thoroughly. Scrape down the sides and blend once more. Add the water and blend on high speed until light and airy. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.
I personally like to serve the hummus slightly chilled before serving (about 30 mins in the fridge), but be prepared for the mixture to firm up substantially if completely cold. When ready to serve, pile on a plate and use the back of a spoon or offset spatula to spread the mixture out in a circular motion, leaving deeper swoops to create small ravines for toppings. Garnish as desired with any or all of the toppings mentioned.
Keeps well in the refrigerator for at least a week and in my opinion, only improves in flavor with time.
About a month ago, I was approached by fellow bloggers Rebecca & Ruth from Squaremealroundtable.com and Annie from WhatAnnieseating.com to participate in my first seasonal recipe collaboration! The theme was APPLES and I was so excited to create a new recipe for the occasion.
As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts though, my husband isn’t a fan of cooked fruit. In fact, I haven’t made an apple pie in the 5 years we’ve been together, *gasp* so I knew I didn’t want to make a cobbler or pie or anything with chunks of cooked apple because I didn’t want to be eating whatever I made alone with no honest critic.
So I began to brainstorm with what I could do with apple butter, which for those unfamiliar, contains no actual butter, but is basically apples and sugar and spices cooked down until it's dark, velvety smooth, and spreadable. Think apple pie jam.
I was brainstorming with my husband one evening, and he reminded me that my favorite way to eat apples is when they are accompanied by slices of sharp cheddar. I wanted to incorporate this favored combination but in an unusual and fun way. I said “Well, what if I made soft pretzels with apple butter in them, and a sharp cheddar dipping sauce situation alongside it?” The emphatic nod and resounding “Yes. Yes you definitely should make that.” from across the table gave me the confidence to proceed.
So I started recipe testing and voila, here we are. Soft, sea-salted pretzels that have a faintly tart sweetness but smell like apple pie. Then that sharp cheddar & rosemary in the dip brings the whole thing together. Pretzels and dip; apples and cheese. Two of my favorite time-honored traditional combinations, joined in an untraditional way. I love sweet dishes that are a little savory or savory dishes that are a little sweet, and everything is better with a salty factor, so in my opinion, these pretzels are the best of both worlds.
For the apple butter, you can absolutely use store-bought. I didn’t have that option here in Thailand, so I was forced to make my own, but I’m so glad I did! I remembered how fun it was! It’s very easy to make and it makes your entire house smell heavenly and Autumny in the process. I used this recipe from cooksandkid.com as a roadmap and it came out beautifully.
There are over 80 of us participating in this collaboration with varying sweet and savory apple posts and we are all joined together on Instagram by the hashtag #AisforAlltheApples. How fun is that?! I’m loving what my fellow bloggers have come up with! You guys, here’s just a sample of some of the creative and mouth-watering things I’m seeing in our talented group…
Cloudy Kitchen’s Salted Caramel and Apple Babka
Square Meal Round Table’s Chai Spiced Tarte Tatin
The Wood and Spoon’s Maple Apple Cake
The Cooking of Joy’s Deep Fried Apple Dumplings with Miso Caramel Dipping Sauce
Salt n Pepper Here’s Honey Apple Muffins
What Annie’s Eating’s Butternut Squash/Apple Soup with Asiago and Sage Croutons
Feed the Swimmer’s Apple Buckwheat Galette with Halva and Maple Tahini
Sprouting Radiance’s White Bean and Apple Soup
Be sure to check out so many other recipes from contributors I've tagged on Insta!
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
FOR THE PRETZELS:
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup apple butter, room temp
1 package (or 2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
2 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp sugar or honey
1/4 cup butter, melted
3.5 cups all purpose flour
8 cups water
1/2 cup baking soda (for boiling)
1 egg yolk
1 Tbs apple butter
1 Tbs water
Large flake salt, for sprinkling
Spray oil, for handling
FOR THE DIP:
1 heaping cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 5 oz)
1 cup whole milk
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (leaves from about 2 sprigs)
2 Tbs all purpose flour
2 Tbs butter
salt and pepper to taste
WHAT YOU'LL DO
FOR THE PRETZELS:
Combine the 3/4 cup warm water, the sugar or honey and kosher salt in a mixing bowl until the sugar and salt dissolve. (If you have a stand mixer, you can do this in the bowl of the mixer). Sprinkle the yeast on top. Set aside for 5 minutes to proof, or until until it looks a little foamy.
Once your yeast is ready, whisk the (room temp) apple butter into your wet mixture. Add both the flour and butter. If using a stand mixer, use the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined. (If using an electric hand beater, still use the hook attachments instead of the round beaters). Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is totally smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle in more flour one tablespoon at a time if needed. You want the dough to be on the wet side, but not stick to your fingers.
Remove the dough from the bowl temporarily so you can clean the bowl, and then spray it with oil generously. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside in a warm place for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Note for make ahead: You can do everything up to this point the night before, placing the dough in the fridge to rise overnight. Just make sure you bring the dough back up to room temperature before you bake it the next day.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet (or two smaller) with parchment paper and lightly spray with oil. Set aside.
Bring the 8 cups water and the baking soda to a boil in a large, straight-sided skillet. A pot will do, but the more wide and shallow the better. While you water comes to a boil, spray your counter or work surface with more oil and turn the dough out onto it. Use a knife or pastry cutter to divide into 8 equal(ish) pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a long rope, at least 18 inches long. Make a long U-shape with the rope, and then, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the classic pretzel. Place (carefully) on the prepared parchment lined baking pan. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, and reshape them as needed.
One at a time, place the pretzels in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula so the pretzel stays flat and the water drips off completely. Return them to the sheet pans after each boil.
(The pretzels will look pretty ugly at this point but don’t panic! They will puff up and be beautiful once they bake).
For finishing, combine the egg yolk, 1 Tbs apple butter, and 1 Tbs water and brush the mixture over the top of the pretzels. Sprinkle with your desired amount of pretzel salt.
Bake until dark golden brown in color, about 12 minutes. (The apple butter in the glaze makes them take on the loveliest dark auburn coloring in spots). Transfer to a cooling rack for at least 5 minutes before serving.
FOR THE DIP:
Melt the butter in the pan on medium heat and add the chopped rosemary. Sauté the rosemary until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Then sprinkle in your flour, combining with the butter to make a smooth paste (roux) and cook another 1-2 mins until it bubbles.
Add in the milk in a steady stream, whisking as you pour it in and making sure no clumps of flour remain. Cook for another minute or two until milk mixture is smooth and thickened, then remove from heat. Stir in the grated sharp cheddar until completely incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately if possible, or keep warm on very low heat, stirring frequently until ready to serve.
Makes 8 pretzels and plenty of cheese sauce for even the greediest of dippers.
Pretzel recipe adapted from Alton Brown’s here.
Although I am not a vegetarian, since moving to Thailand, I’ve gravitated to cooking solely vegetarian meals at home. Because of the convenience and low cost of eating local food, we probably eat out one meal per day, at least lunch or dinner. Very few Thai foods are vegetarian, so out of convenience and need for protein, I find myself eating chicken and fish with more frequency than I did in America. My husband eats pork more frequently than he ever did. So in an effort to counter-act the meat consumption while dining out, the meals I do make at home now are vegetarian about 95% of the time. The hubby is a really good sport: he appreciates that I try to keep us balanced. He honestly doesn’t mind if a dish has meat or not, is vegan or not, as long as its absolutely delicious, makes him feel full, and is packed with flavor. And that’s how it should be.
I really only blog about things that I make and enjoy myself. Whether that is vegan, gluten free, and dairy free (as in the case with this recipe) or full of cream, eggs and sugar (see one post back: Thai coffee crepe cake), the one thing I can guarantee you is I’m always sharing something that we find delicious. Period. But hopefully there is something for everyone here.
The story for this recipe goes back a few years. When I was single, I was living in Portland, OR and decided to head up to Orcas Island, WA for the weekend to see my friend Kim. She showed me all the loveliest Pacific Northwest island sights there were to see and as we strolled through the Saturday farmer’s market, we ran into a couple she knew. We made introductions, and immediately after they invited us to dinner that night because they had a boatload of fresh caught Dungeness crab. To which question there is only ever one answer and that is a resounding “Yes. Yes, we just met, but I can most certainly help you eat your boatload of crab.”
Later that evening, we did sit down to the loveliest of dinners and a true lesson in hospitality: all the crab I could eat with my own personal vat of melted butter. But here’s the part where I get to my point. The couple who had invited us over was also entertaining their own off-island guest, and she was a vegan. In my head I thought, "fine by me, that’s a higher crab-to-person ratio with her out of the game," but then something interesting happened.
The ultimate hostess, Gretchen, made this vegan girl her own dinner, and you guessed it, it was THIS recipe.
Once I tried it, I COULD NOT STOP EATING IT. I was busy literally tearing into my favorite meal of all time, and yet was so impressed by this vegan side dish that I was also stealing as much as I could of this poor girl’s only food. Not my proudest moment, but what I’m trying to say is, not much could normally distract me from cracking into an endless pile of Dungeness crab legs and essentially drinking the accompanying melted butter, but somehow this humble vegan stew served over sweet potatoes stole my attention to the point where it made an equal impression on me.
When I did a google search for the recipe to make it for myself some months later, I found a recipe from TheKitchn.com that seemed to contain all the ingredients I’d remembered fondly from that first encounter. I’ve adapted the recipe over the years to suit my own preferences, but the core ingredients are still there. They aren't necessarily ingredients you automatically pair together at first thought, but trust me they work.
These braised chickpeas are very hearty, with a rich creaminess from the coconut milk that is balanced by the zing of fresh grated ginger and lemon zest, earthy smokiness from sun dried tomatoes, as well as a lingering heat from the crushed red chili. The chopped spinach adds that lovely leafy heft that only stewed greens can, but cooks down so quickly that this stew is ready to serve in less time than it takes to roast the potatoes accompanying it--making it the perfect meatless Monday or weeknight meal. So I recommend getting those potatoes in the oven ASAP, before you start on the chickpeas so they aren’t holding you up at the end. It’s also lovely spooned over brown rice, should you prefer that as a bed for your braised chickpeas instead. Although the toppings of cilantro and toasted coconut flakes are technically optional, in my mind they are not, they really make the perfect toppers.
WHAT YOU’LL NEED
1/2 Tbs coconut or olive oil
1 small yellow sweet onion, diced
5 large garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
1.5 Tbs fresh (finely) grated ginger, from a peeled 3-4 inch piece
1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
1 large lemon: all the zest from it + 1 Tbs juice
2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bunch of spinach (stems removed) or 1 (6 oz) bag of baby spinach, leaves roughly chopped
1 (14 oz) can full-fat coconut milk
1/2 tsp crushed red chili flakes (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Roasted sweet potatoes or steamed brown rice
Cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
Unsweetened coconut flakes, toasted
WHAT YOU’LL DO
Heat the oil in a medium-large skillet, wok, or pot over medium heat. Add just your onions and cook, stirring occaisionally until starting to brown, about 5 mins. Add in the grated ginger, garlic, lemon zest, sun dried tomatoes, and red chili flakes (if using). Stir often, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. The grated ingredients will start to stick to the bottom of the pan and brown a bit, but don’t worry.
Add in the chickpeas and cook on medium-high heat for another 3-4 minutes, until the chickpeas are darkening in color and coated in the garlic and ginger.
Toss in the chopped spinach leaves. You may need to do it in two batches, waiting for the first half to cook down to make room for the rest of it. After all the spinach is combined and wilted, add the coconut milk, along with the lemon juice, 1 tsp of salt, and a pinch of pepper.
Bring to a simmer, stirring with a spatula to make sure all the bits stuck to the bottom are incorporated into the sauce. Once simmering, turn the heat to medium low and cook for 10 minutes more, until chickpeas are softened and the coconut milk has thickened. It should be a lovely stew-like consistency.
Taste for seasoning and adjust, adding perhaps more salt or lemon juice if you feel it's needed.
Slice open your whole roasted potatoes and scoop the chickpeas into the center, then top with cilantro and toasted coconut. Serve warm.
Serves 4-6, depending on the size of your potatoes.