As we head into spring, I am craving lighter meals with a comfort factor to see us through this fickle weather. Both of this month’s featured recipes are plant-based and quickly prepared with store cupboard staples. One-bowl, one-pot chickpea and spinach stew is vibrant with spices and the first of the local spinach. Hearty organic sweet potatoes are roasted to bring out their flavor, then bathed in a sweet and sour glaze and served atop rice. I hope you enjoy these dishes as we transition through spring.
Sesame Glazed Sweet Potatoes
Purchase organic sweet potatoes and leave them unpeeled unless the skins are wrinkled and blemished. If you do not have miso on hand (and I heartily recommend that you do), you can skip it. You can substitute honey for the maple syrup. Top the bowl with a fried or poached egg for a heartier meal. Add flavor to your plain boiled rice by stirring in a little coconut oil or butter, salt and a teaspoon or two of seasoned rice wine vinegar.
Garlic Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 medium-large sweet potatoes, scrubbed, with skins
2 Tbsp. olive oil
½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 large clove garlic peeled
Line a heavy sheet pan with parchment paper. Place the garlic clove and a pinch of salt in a pestle and mortar, pound to a paste and set aside. Cut the sweet potatoes into one-and-half-inch chunks, toss with olive oil and salt and arrange in single layer on the sheet pan. Roast in a preheated 375-degree oven for 20 minutes before tossing with the pureed garlic. Return to the oven and check for doneness with a small sharp knife after five minutes. The knife should easily pierce the flesh, but potatoes should still be slightly firm. If they need more cooking, return to the oven for a further five minutes.
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup water
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1½ tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. yellow miso
3 Tbsp. seasoned white wine vinegar
2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
½ inch piece fresh ginger
2 scallions sliced
Additional 2 scallions sliced
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds
Warm the canola oil in a heavy skillet. Add the sliced scallions and cook gently for a couple of minutes. Add the miso, maple syrup, water, soy sauce, vinegar and toasted sesame oil and stir to blend. Grate the ginger into the mixture, using a fine micro plane grater. Add the roasted sweet potatoes and cook over low heat, stirring until the sauce thickens and forms a thick glaze, about 4 to 5 minutes. Spoon potatoes and glaze over boiled basmati or jasmine rice, and top with the remaining scallions and a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Spiced Chickpea & Spinach Stew
I use organic canned chickpeas for speed and convenience. Play around with the spices. I sometimes add ground coriander or a pinch of garam masala. Swiss chard is a great substitute for the spinach.
One 15-ounze can low sodium organic chickpeas
1 cup canned whole plum tomatoes in natural juices, crushed
2 cups shredded spinach or Swiss chard leaves
Half a small red onion, sliced crosswise
1 bay leaf
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. sweet paprika
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp. fine sea salt
A pinch of Aleppo pepper or dried chili flakes
Half a lemon
Fine sea salt
Fresh black pepper
Greek yogurt seasoned with a little salt
Gochujang or Sriracha sauce
Fresh coriander leaves or chopped parsley
Warm olive oil on medium heat in a heavy pan. Add onions, bay leaf and a ¼ tsp. of salt and sauté on low heat for a couple of minutes, until the onions start to soften. Add the sweet & smoked paprika, turmeric and chili flakes and cook gently for a further 3 minutes. Add tomatoes and a half a cup of water and simmer for five minutes before adding chickpeas and their juices and cooking for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the greens and cook for about three minutes ,until they are fully wilted. Turn off the heat and add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice, salt to taste and a twist or two of fresh ground black pepper. Ladle stew into warmed individual serving bowls. Top with a tablespoon or two of the seasoned Greek yoghurt, a drizzle of hot sauce and a sprinkling of cilantro or chopped parsley leaves. Serve with warmed flatbreads on the side.