Monday, April 29, 2013

Meatless Monday: Chickpeas and Cauliflower in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

This is my yummy Indian breakfast

This is an easy East Indian-like baked dish. Chickpeas and Cauliflower are very common Indian ingredients. This can be as spicy as you like. It's flavorful without the chile so you can leave it out, if you don't like spicy.

Chickpeas and garbanzos are the same thing. Sometimes they are labeled one, sometimes the other. You can buy dried ones (they are even cheaper than canned) and cook them yourself, but you'll need to plan ahead. They take quite a while to soak and cook. See the note at the end of the recipe if you want to use dried chickpeas.

The recipe for the tomato sauce is here. It comes together in about 15 minutes, cooking in the microwave. You can make it ahead but reheat it before using it in this recipe.

Queso Fresco is a fresh Mexican cheese. We used it as a substitute for paneer in our recipe for Saag. It's very mild. You can make this without the cheese. It's still very good but you may need to add a bit more salt since the cheese adds salt.

Chickpeas and Cauliflower in a Spicy Tomato Sauce
(serves 6, costs $12.25)

1 recipe Spicy Tomato Sauce - Indian version, heated
non-stick cooking spray, oil or butter for greasing baking dish
4 cups raw cauliflower florests (about 1 small head or ½ a large head)
2 15 oz. cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained (about 3 ¾ cups)
½ pound queso fresco, cubed + plus more for garnish
½ teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons melted butter
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro or parsley (about 6 large sprigs)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Grease a large, deep casserole dish (about 3 quarts). Pour in tomato sauce. Mix in cauliflower, garbanzos, and queso fresco. Bake for 30-40 minutes, uncovered. The sauce will be all bubbly and the cauliflower will be crisp-tender. Sprinkle with melted butter, chopped herbs, and additional cheese, if desired.

Inspired by recipes from Moghul Microwave by Julie Sahni and How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman.

Note: If you want to start with dried chickpeas, here are instructions for cooking them. I try to use home-cooked beans because they have a better texture and are really, really inexpensive.

For this recipe, you will need 1 ½ cups dried chickpeas. Place them in a large pot and add water until they are covered by at least an inch of water. Let sit overnight. You can do a quick soak but I find chickpeas cook better with a long overnight soak. Drain completely. Add fresh water to cover chickpeas by at least a water. If you want to add some flavoring, add a couple of bay leaves and dozen whole peppercorns. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cover partially and simmer for 45 minutes. Try a few chickpeas. If they are tender, drain, pick out the bay leaves and peppercorn, and you are ready to proceed with the recipe. If they still have a little crunch, cook 5-10 minutes more and try again.

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