Despite the global economic crises, the fact that the apocalypse was supposed to enshroud us (myriad times), and that many journalists have branded 2011 as one of the worst years in several decades, I fancied it.
We planted a garden, which is insidiously spawning more craziness than simply growing our own veggies and baking our bread. (Anyone want to grind their own flours with me? Raise chickens? ) I began this website and a couple of writing side projects when I am not actively raising, cleaning, teaching, lifting, and generally engaging with my children.
My first baby began kindergarten. My second baby is crafty enough to snatch and hide her brother’s toys and the gall to stash them in secret hiding places. And I am in my final trimester with our third child. What a splendid year. What a lucky gal I am.
I hope that your 2011 treated you well too and wish you a 2012 that tops it and then some.
And I leave you with a simple dish that I concocted for my kids, based on a few key ingredients that they adore. This is a perfect way to ring in the new year because it is vegan, chock full of superfoods, simple enough for my inept-but-earnest cooks, and insanely delicious.
One starts with a stew of chickpeas and greens (this time I mixed rainbow swiss chard from our garden and lacinato kale) and pour on a hefty amount of a garlicky, spicy, almond and roasted red pepper sauce and–if you do not mind disqualifying it from the vegan awards–a dollop of creamy yogurt. On the dry side, one could name this a chickpea salad (in which case it actually beats out my old favorite chickpea salad with pumpkin), and if made a little wetter, it is much more like a winter stew. Either way, it is healthy and phenomenal.
Happy New Year!
Chard and Chickpea Stew with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce
Notes: You can skip the sauce if you want to make this a really quick and simple meal, but if you have a food processor and you purchase canned roasted peppers, the sauce takes a mere 1 minute to make. Also, I mixed Swiss chard and kale, but you could use one or the other if that is your preference.
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion
4 cloves garlic
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 large bunch swiss chard
1 bunch kale (optional) (I had 6 leaves leftover from something else)
1 large lemon, zest and juice
2-3 tablespoons tomato paste (or 3-4 tablespoons plain tomato sauce, or 2 minced tomatoes)
salt to taste
Yogurt to dollop (optional)
Red Pepper Sauce
3 roasted red peppers, oven roasted or from a jar
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1/4 cup sliced almonds (raw or toasted, depending upon preference)
salt to taste
Mince your onion and garlic and cook in the olive oil on medium heat until just past translucent and beginning to color light brown. If you cut your onion thinly, this should take no more than 8 minutes with stirring. Add the chickpeas and their cooking liquid if you made them yourself. (If using canned chickpeas, add no more than a cup or so of water.) Bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the chard and/or kale and add together with the tomato paste, salt, and half of the lemon zest. Let cook for 3 minutes and then add about 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and taste for balance. A minute before serving add the remainder of the lemon zest and more lemon juice if needed. If the stew seems too dry, add more water until it is the consistency you desire.
While your stew finishes up place all of the red pepper sauce ingredients into the food processor and blend until you have a smooth sauce. Taste for balance and add more salt or crushed garlic, if needed.
Serve each plate individually, passing around the sauce and yogurt so each person can doctor it to their taste.