Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chickpeas in spicy tomato sauce with greens and couscous

I meant to write a post about/take a picture of this meal on Friday night, but stuff got in the way and I figure that three-day-old leftovers don't photograph as well as food you just made.

I've dabbled enthusiastically in vegetarianism, but am downright opposed to veganism. Even so, this nearly-vegan dish meets my criteria of 1) tasty 2) filling 3) healthy and 4) quick. I picked it up from a conversation about go-to staples on the Home Cooking boards of Chowhounds, and it's usually at the back of my mind when I'm trying to figure out a simple and satisfying dinner.

The ingredients:

2 cans diced tomatoes
1 can chick peas
1/2 cup shredded spinach (or other dark, leafy green)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cloves garlic, minced
olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
pinch cayenne (I used one birds-eye chili, which I ground with dried chiles and cumin seeds for the spice mixture)
1 teaspoon minced fresh oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup plain yogurt

Couscous, to serve.

Warm the oil in a medium-sized saucepan and add the diced onion and minced garlic. Allow to brown and soften, and add the tomatoes and bring the mixture to a simmer and allow to reduce for at least 10 minutes. Add the spices and oregano and tomato paste, and blend the sauce with an immersion blender, mixing in salt and pepper to taste. While the sauce is still warm, add the chickpeas and spinach and simmer until the sauce has reached a thickness you like and the spinach has a satisfying soft-but-not-slimy texture. Adjust the seasoning as needed. Once you're ready to stop cooking the sauce, stir in the yogurt.

Prepare the couscous, and serve the chickpeas and tomatoes over the pasta once it's ready to be eaten.

I'd recommend going a little crazy with the garlic - lots is really tasty in this. I've also thought that it could use a sweetening agent to tone down the acid - maybe just some plain old brown sugar.
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