Monday, March 20, 2023

Spiced Chickpea Sweet Potato Stew and Happy March

Happy Monday, my friends! I hope your March is going well. Here, March brings with it two household birthdays, a much-anticipated spring break, new hardwood floors and siding (on the construction side of things) - AND, strangely, sort of disturbingly, it marks my ninth month of dream-chasing. A human gestation period's worth of dream-chasing. It doesn't feel v. dreamy, unfortunately, or like I've gotten much closer to those aspirations I'm after. In January, I completed my first short story, which certainly felt like an epic accomplishment when it finally happened, but the subsequent let-down and failure to launch whatever is meant to come next have cut against that ever-so-fleeting feeling of dead chuffed. Self-motivation is tricky to sustain. Right?

I've specifically struggled to unearth that archived motivation I once had - loved having, in fact - to regularly write to be read. I had that when I posted here more regularly in the long-gone days of feeding toddlers and teaching cooking classes. (Presently, I have two middle schoolers; and the last cooking class I taught was in 2017.) That era stands out in my memory as a creative time. And though memory has its flaws... I was creating babies and a family-oriented life and a hodgepodge, exciting, inspiring alternativy career and new-to-the-face-of-the-earth content, and even, it felt like, on the best days, community. While those years were frantic and, in retrospect, sort of dicey on the mental health front, I saw steady improvement in my ability to find just the right word, I made really great food because I was always on the lookout for something worth sharing, I think I was brave without knowing it, and I generally identified as a creative person in the thick of creating a life, and growing and nurturing other lives, and fostering creativity online, at home, and in the Local D'Lish classroom (RIP). The well didn't dry up, even when I worried it might. I have always worried it might. That's why I'm back here, spottily for now, but earnest. Trying to make systems and build practices and come up with a supportive structure to make this work. To make work. To write my damn book. Or maybe something else entirely. Or maybe just to share one of my favorite dinners. Regardless, thanks for reading.



My sister first introduced this chickpea stew recipe to me. It's from canceled NY Times contributor Alison Roman, who, despite it all, I kind of like and kind of relate to because I say the wrong thing too sometimes, have endured disastrous episodes of grandiosity, and prioritize a nice crunch in my salad. Maybe it's her oversized Elizabeth Cole earrings. Or more likely, her food. I like her food.

Anyway, my sister cooked this for me and my family a couple years ago, employing her own adaptations - it was her idea originally to add the sweet potatoes, and she used broccoli instead of leafy greens. One of us at one point had a moment of genius that led to throwing in a half-cup of split red lentils to thicken the sauce. All this to say this recipe is one of those gems, conducive to resourcefulness and modification and virtually impossible to ruin. Just don't skimp on the turmeric! It infuses the creamy sweet potatoes and chickpeas as it simmers, and, IMHO, is the only non-negotiable. My main changes from the original include: a bit of streamlining, added coriander, subbed kashmiri chili (milder, more curry-like) for red pepper flakes, and I cut the fat in half - Roman, not famous for her judiciousness, calls for 1/4 cup of oil and two cans of coconut milk - and haven't since missed it. The stew thickens more quickly with the reduced liquid, and the addition of sweet potatoes makes up for any velvet lost on account of the reduced coconut milk fat.


Spiced Chickpea-Sweet Potato Stew
Adapted from NY Times Cooking
4-6 servings

2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 (2-inch) piece ginger, finely chopped
1 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon kashimiri chili powder or red-pepper flakes
3 cups cooked chickpeas (or 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
1 small sweet potato, cut into 1/2" cubes
1 (15-ounce) can full-fat coconut milk
2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 bunch Swiss chard, kale or spinach, coarsely chopped*
3 scallions and/or handful of cilantro or mint, for garnish
Brown rice, pita, for serving

Heat oil or ghee in a large pot over medium. Add garlic, onion, and ginger, and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir occasionally until onion is translucent and starts to brown a little at the edges, about 5 minutes.

Add turmeric, coriander, chili powder or red-pepper flakes, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir for 1 minute, until spices are fragrant. Add chickpeas and sweet potatoes and give them a stir to coat them in the spices. Add coconut milk, stock, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Bring to a simmer, scraping up any bits that have formed on the bottom of the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally; every 10 minutes or so, use a wooden spoon or potato masher to mash up the chickpeas and sweet potato; their starches will help thicken the stew. Cook for about 30 to 35 minutes.

Add greens and stir; cook until they wilt and soften, 5-10 minutes, depending on what you’re using. Kale (which I used) will take the full ten, all the while soaking up all that big flavor. Taste and add a little more salt and/or a squeeze of lime juice if you like a tangy finish. (I prefer this really smooth and warm - no lime juice for me this time, but in the summer who knows.)

Serve alongside brown rice or toasted pita or naan bread, and garnish with something green and punchy, e.g. cilantro, scallions, basil, mint.

*I throw my chopped kale stems into the stew and just make sure they're al dente before serving. Gives it a texture bonus.

The leftovers are even better. xoE-N

No comments:

Post a Comment