Because I am a terrible vegetarian, not to mention a poor, struggling student (pity party, table of one), I’m always on the lookout for delicious, filling, vegetable dishes. The kind that will hold their own as a proper dinner, instead of that all-too-familiar ‘I am just a supersized accompaniment without the tasty meat on top’. Enter: Coconut Spinach Chickpeas with Lemon. Adapted from the kitchn’s excellent recipe, this hearty casserole-curry-stew is best scooped over a chunk of roast pumpkin, or your favourite root vegetable.
One last thing – the toasted coconut flakes are totally worth it for the crunchy flavour, and easy to get going while you prepare the onion. Do it.
1 brown onion
1 1/2 tsp grated ginger (“fresh is best” but I just use the jar stuff)
3-4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Pinch (or two) of cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 large lemon, zested and juiced (aprox 2 tbsps)
1 can tomatoes (400g)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 can chickpeas, rinsed (400 g)
1 sml can light coconut milk (165 ml)
1 giant bag of baby spinach leaves (ie not the single serve salad bags – the spinach reduces down way too much to have any real oomph in the dish)
Single serve wedges of roast pumpkin
Toasted unsweetened coconut
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius
- Drizzle olive oil and salt and pepper on your pumpkin and bung in oven
- Watch the news or catch up on some reading for about ten minutes (maybe fifteen if they’re large pieces) – this way the roasted veg will be timed so that it’s ready at the same time as the chickpeas
- In a small saucepan, pour in the can of tomatoes and balsamic vinegar, stirring occasionally. This will reduce to a more intense flavour and consistency while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- In a frypan, over a medium high heat, sprinkle a thin layer of unsweetened coconut flakes. Keep an eye on it as you chop the onions and watch for the colour to turn golden brown (follow your nose, too). This happens fairly rapidly, so once they’re 80% golden brown you can stir them around the pan and then take it off the heat. Set to one side.
- Chop your onions, ginger and garlic
- Set a medium large saucepan over a moderate to high heat, pour in the vegetable oil and then add the onions, ginger and garlic.
- Let the ingredients sweat for a couple minutes for the onion to soften, and then add the cayenne pepper, cumin and ground ginger, sitrring thoroughly to release the aromas.
- Now pour in the tomatoes, chickpeas, lemon juice and half the lemon zest and mix to combine. Let everything simmer for about three minutes so the chickpeas soften slightly. Maybe check on your pumpkin, see how those puppies are doing.
- Add the spinach and pop the lid on the saucepan for a minute or so. When you lift the lid, the spinach will have magically shrunk down in size and can be stirred through the tomato chickpea mixture. You might need to do it in two batches.
- Add the coconut milk, bring down to a simmer and stir through. Cook for another five to ten minutes so that the chickpeas soften slightly. Taste it here – season with more spices or salt and pepper or more lemon juice if required.
Scoop two generous spoonfuls over your roasted pumpkin. Garnish generously with the toasted coconut, and then some lemon zest and coriander. Lookit all them purty colours. Pretend not to be impressed as you serve it up.
Hey look, enough leftovers for lunch the next day.