Archive for January, 2009

Chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans), three ways…

Cooking dried beans is really, really easy.  It takes very little effort, but it does take some time and planning ahead, even for no-soak varieties.   So, when I cook any kind of bean, I cook in quantity.  By quantity, I mean three or four cups dried, which yields many more cups cooked.  I usually leave some of the beans in the crockpot to inspire a delicious dinner that night (or lunch the next day), make bean burgers to be frozen for a quick meal in the near future, then freeze some plain for later use.  That way, I always have a good variety of beans in the freezer so that when I’m in a pinch for a meal, I have a good starting point. 

I like a lot of different types of beans, but chickpeas are right up there at the top of my list.  The closest competition is French lentils, which I’m sure will come up in a post soon…

The first recipe is for chickpeas slow-cooked in a base of onions, garlic, tomatoes, and whatever vegetables you want to throw in.  Oh, and lots of olive oil; can’t have too much of that.  This recipe can be made with any type of bean you like, by the way, and any vegetables you want to add.  In this case, I’m using the cooked beans, but I’ll also offer an option for slow cooking the beans if you just want to make this one dish. 

The second recipe is for chickpea patties (burgers), which I form into patties and freeze.  When we want them, I just pop them in the toaster oven (or regular oven).  They only require about 30 seconds of my time.  My kids always say “yum” when I put chickpea patties, sweet potatoes and broccoli on the table, usually for breakfast.  Happy kids, only a tray to wash, and we can get to the bus on time…

Finally, roasted chickpeas are one of many great uses for that jar of cooked chickpeas in the freezer.  These are crispy and salty and I find them addicting.  They are excellent on their own for a snack, in salads, with pilafs, etc, etc, etc. 

First things first, cooking chickpeas.  Easy.  Put them in a large bowl and cover by at least a couple inches of filtered water (they will soak up a lot, so don’t be stingy).  Leave them out at room temp for 12-24 hours; I generally leave them for closer to 24 hours.  Other beans can be soaked for a shorter time.  If it’s hot out, soak them a few hours on the counter, then stick them in the fridge.  Drain into a colander and rinse if you want, I don’t usually bother.  Put them in a crockpot, if you have one, or a large pot on the stove, or a pressure cooker.  Cover with water, again, don’t be stingy.  Add a strip or two of kombu (seaweed that aids digestibility).  Add a tablespoon or two of olive oil to keep them from foaming too much.  Bring to a boil, then turn down to a simmer and cook them covered (or partially covered on the stove) until they are soft.  This is totally variable, depending on where you live.  I live at altitude, so I cook them for 12-15 hours on high in the crockpot.  They take about 25-30 minutes in my pressure cooker.  Once they are done, drain them, add some salt, and pour whatever isn’t being used right away into a shallow pan.  Cool uncovered on the top rack of the fridge.  If you leave them in their liquid, you will notice that it congeals, this is normal.  The liquid works well as a thickener for pot pies, stews, etc. 

Slow-Cooked Chickpeas 

  • Olive oil, generous amounts
  • 1 large onion, chopped finely
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 2-3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced into rounds
  • 1/2 to 1 bunch kale or other green leafy vegetable, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 tomatoes, diced, or one large can diced roasted tomatoes
  • 5-6 cups chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup of water, or as needed
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  •  salt, to taste

 Sauté onion in olive oil until very soft.  Add celery, carrots, and kale and cook until they begin to soften.  Make a space in the center of the cooked vegetables, add a little more oil and the garlic, and cook 1-2 minutes until fragrant.  Add tomatoes, chickpeas, 1/2 cup water, and more olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt.  Pour it all into the crockpot and cook on low for several hours, adding additional water if needed.  If you don’t have a crockpot, cover the pot and bake in a 300 degrees oven for a few hours.  If you are in a hurry, bake at 350 degrees for an hour, or 400 degrees for 1/2 hour.  It’s flexible.  You could also make it ahead and throw it in the fridge until you want to bake it.  I like this plain or over quinoa, but it’s also a good pasta sauce. 


If you want to make this recipe with dried beans, you’ll basically do the same thing, except leave out the tomatoes and salt (salt and acidic foods will keep the chickpeas from getting soft, no matter how long you cook them).  Add more water, enough to cover the chickpeas by at least an inch, and cook until soft.  Then, saute the tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt and add them after the beans are soft.  Continue to cook another hour or so, adding more water if necessary, and season to taste. 


Chickpea Patties




As I said, we love these for breakfast, but I have also served them as a vegan holiday meal.  Start out with some butternut squash soup, then serve these with stuffing, gravy, and a green vegetable, and finish it off with your favorite holiday dessert.  Maybe I’ll post all that next year when the holidays roll around…

  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 scallions, thinly sliced (sub leeks, shallot, browned onion if preferred, though I like scallion best)
  • 2-3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 2 Tablespoons flaxseed, finely ground
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 3-4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 3-4 Tablespoons tamari
  • Olive oil, water, or broth, as needed for consistency

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Sauté scallion and celery in a little water until soft.  Mash vegetables with remaining ingredients, either by pulsing in a food processor or by hand.  If they are too dry to stick together, add water or broth a teeny tiny bit at a time to get a consistency that will allow you to form into patties.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Form patties and bake on lightly greased cookie sheet for about 20-30 minutes, turning halfway through, until crispy on the outside.  Or, place formed patties on an ungreased cookie sheet and freeze, then store in plastic bags and heat when needed. 

 Roasted Chickpeas 



While you have the oven on, I suggest roasting a bunch of stuff at once to save energy and be more efficient.  Could be anything – beets, winter squash, root veggies, cauliflower, sweet potato fries, etc, etc.  Or, you could bake something at the same time…

  • Chickpeas – as many as you want and will fit in your pan in one crowded layer, maybe 3 cups for a 9×13 pan
  • olive oil – to coat them well, probably about a Tablespoon per cup of chickpeas
  • chopped garlic, maybe one small-medium clove for three cups
  • sea salt, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Put chickpeas into roasting pan or baking dish – I use a 9×13 corningware dish, but anything with sides to hold them in will work.  Stir in enough olive oil so that they are all coated.  Stir in the chopped garlic.  Bake (no need to wait for the oven to heat completely) for about 20 minutes undisturbed, then stirring occasionally until done, probably another 10-15 minutes.  They are done when they are crispy on the outside, but still soft on the inside.  However, I have overcooked them until they are crispy througout and that’s good too.  Yeah for flexibility!


 Whew, this was a long post.  Thanks for sticking with me, if you did.  Hopefully you will all enjoy these recipe as much as I do! 


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Creamy Tomato Soup – Quick!

Tomato soup is an old standby for us.  The addition of white beans makes it more nutritious and hardy, and definitely a comfort food.  It’s really quick and easy and everyone in my family loves it.  I always try to have cooked white beans (or garbanzo beans) in my freezer , in case I need dinner in a pinch.  I defrost them in warm water, just enough to get them out of the jar, and then it only takes about five or ten minutes to make the soup and get it on the table.   Optimally, you can your own tomatoes; for the rest of us, see the note about tomato options in the dead of Winter. 

You can make this soup as simple or as elaborate as you like; the possibilities are practically endless.  We like to stir in some quinoa and then serve it with a salad.  The kids (and my husband), of course, love to have it with grilled cheese.  Check out the modification below for Creamy Mac and Cheese made with leftover soup, or you can use it as a pasta sauce, etc, etc, etc. 

First, I’ll list the basic recipe, then a few of the many options for embellishing…

  • 3 cups cooked white beans (or garbanzo beans)
  • 3 cups chopped tomatoes, grilled, roasted, or sauteed (strained tomatoes are much more concentrated, so bring it down to about a cup)*
  • 1/2-1 cup vegetable broth, or more for the consistency you like (water will work too, but you’ll need to add extra seasoning, or maybe a little white wine)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

* When tomatoes aren’t in season, canned or jarred tomatoes are a good option.  I have to confess that, while I generally avoid canned food, I do really like Muir Glen Organic Roasted Tomatoes and sometimes use them in this (and other) soup.  Another good option, though, is Bionaturae jarred strained tomatoes (also organic) with the addition of a little smoked sea salt. 

Throw it all in the blender and process until smooth.  Heat (the red from the tomatoes will brighten up quite a bit as you heat it) and enjoy!

Optional embellishments:

  • sauteed or roasted onions or shallots
  • sauteed or roasted garlic
  • sauteed greens
  • Italian herbs (basil, oregano, etc)
  • pesto
  • chopped parsley
  • Mexican seasoning
  • cooked whole grains
  • white wine
  • Parmesan cheese

Creamy Macaroni and Cheese

  • Cooked pasta
  • leftover tomato soup
  • grated cheese

Heat the soup in a saucepan.  Add pasta.  Stir in the cheese and heat until melted.  Top with a little extra cheese.  I like to add some greens, but my kids are purists, so I usually put them on the side instead.

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Delicious, Super Easy and Healthy(!) Overnight Waffles

This recipe was a great surprise to us, not only because it worked wonderfully, but because it sustained us better than even our healthiest waffle and pancake recipe made from flour and cooked whole grains.  We are normally more of a beans and greens for breakfast kind of family, reserving things like waffles and pancakes for mid-morning (or afternoon) snacks, but I think we’ll be able to slip these in for breakfast once in a while.  These waffles are made from soaked millet and buckwheat and, as long as you remember to soak the grains the night before, come together in just a couple minutes. 

This recipe comes from The Splendid Grain, by Rececca Wood.  If you are new to whole grains, or if you are not, this is a fabulous book with sections on a variety of whole grains.  Some are common, some may be totally new to you.  Each section provides interesting background on the grain, then tells you what you need to know and provides plenty of delicious ways to eat it.  I did make several changes to this recipe, such as using ground flaxseed instead of the egg, adding a bit of agave, using water instead of milk, and replacing butter with unrefined coconut oil.  I also simplified the preparation of the grains a bit. 

By the way, I won’t always post recipes from cookbooks.  When I’m busy, as I have been, I can get in a cooking rut and getting my cookbooks out is a great way to get reinspired.  That is where I am right now…plus, I want you to know about all the great cookbooks out there. 

Overnight Millet, Buckwheat, and Coconut Waffles, adapted from The Spendid Grain

  • 1 cup millet
  • 1 cup raw buckwheat (not kasha; it’s roasted)
  • 2 1/4  cups water (or any type of milk or buttermilk)
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseed (could also use 1 egg)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 3 Tablespoons unrefined coconut oil, melted (could also use butter or other oil)
  • 2-3 tablespoons agave, or the sweetener of your choice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon coriander or nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  • a handful of chopped pecans or other nuts, optional
  • 1/4-1/2 cup applesauce, optional

Put the millet and buckwheat in a colander and rinse.  Transfer to a bowl, cover with spring or filtered water, and leave overnight.  In the morning, put the soaked grains and their water*, plus all of the other ingredients except the nuts and applesauce in your blender and process until smooth.  You can process the nuts to make a smooth batter, or fold them in for texture.  The applesauce should also be folded in at the end.  Pour into the waffle maker and bake as you would any other waffles.  Even without the egg, I had no problem with sticking and they cooked beautifully.  We’ve had them multiple ways – with cooked pears and blueberries, with jelly and walnuts, with almond butter… a scoop of lightly sweetened plain yogurt would also be a nice addition. 

* You can certainly soak the grains in a acid, such as whey, if you wish.  I tend to like to pour off the soaking water and use fresh water for cooking.  If you want to do this, you’ll need to use a bit less water to accomodate absorbtion.  To know how much, just put a colander on top of a measuring cup, and drain the grains into the colander, letting the water go into the measuring cup.  Take note of the amount of water, discard it, and replace with fresh water.  Rinse the grains and proceed as above.

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Recipe Inauguration – Yellow Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

I often think about this blog and all of the things I would like to do with it, but I’ve gotten a little intimidated by all the great blogs out there with their beautiful photography and well-written entries.  One of my many hopes for the New Year, though, is that I will accept what I can do when I can do it, rather than waiting until I can do something perfectly and completely, which pretty much translates to never.  So, in that spirit, here I go – I’ll just start by sharing recipes and thoughts and see where it takes me. 

While the Farmers’ Market is closed, I’ve been thinking that I want to take my friend Millicent’s suggestion and start “Soup Night”, which basically means I’ll make an organic, vegetarian, and (hopefully) delicious soup and bread one night each week and sell it to whomever wants a quick, simple, and healthy meal for their family, made by someone else.  As I’ve thought about it more and more, I’ve been inspired to think about some new soup recipes.  So I started looking through a few of my favorite cookbooks for ideas and here is one of the recipes I came across.  

This is from a cookbook called Greens Glorious Greens by Johnna Albi and Catherine Walthers.  I had never heard of it or its authors, but I received it as a gift from my friend Kris and I really love it for the simplicity and yumminess of its recipes…

For some reason, I very rarely follow a recipe exactly – I came pretty close with this one, but I did make a couple changes.  Instead of the basil, thyme and celery seed, I used Herbs de Provence (probably just a half teaspoon) and, since I was making sweet potato fries and wasn’t sure when I would make the soup, I cut some in a dice (without peeling) and roasted them until just slightly soft and then saved them for the recipe.  Also, I highly recommend the umeboshi plum vinegar over the red wine as seasoning…

  • olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, washed and sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 1/2 cups yellow split peas, rinsed well
  • 8 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 1/2 cups peeled and diced sweet potato
  • 4 cups spinach leaves, washed, drained, and chopped
  • salt to taste
  • umeboshi plum vinegar (or red wine) to taste, optional

Heat oil and sauté onion until it begins to brown, then add the leek and continue to sauté until it softens.  Add cumin and cook another minute. 

Add carrots, celery, split peas, water, bay leaves, and herbs.  Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer on medium low, partially covered for about 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until split peas are totally soft.  (I did mine in a crockpot, plan on 4-5 hours to slow cook the soup).  Add the sweet potato and cook for another 20 minutes, or until soft.  Add spinach and cook until it reaches your desired texture.  Season to taste with salt and umeboshi plum vinegar or wine.   

Enjoy!  Until next time…be well and happy

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