Thursday, April 14, 2011

chickpeas & spinach (and dessert, too!)

Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Spinach

Remember when your mom used to promise you dessert if you ate all your healthy dinner?  Well, this post is kinda like that.  Read this post (suffer through it?) in its entirety, and you'll find something sweet at the end, too. 

How many of you just scrolled all the way down?  Cheaters.

When I saw this post on Eats Well With Others, I knew I had to try it.  I'm not a huge fan of chickpeas, but the picture that Joanne posted was so mouthwatering that it made me want to cook it immediately.  Of course, my picture doesn't do it any justice.  Blame the point-and-shoot.  Maybe you should just go to the original post to see it.  It really was a pretty one!

I had high hopes for this recipe.  And you know what?  Until I started writing this post, I actually liked it.  It was definitely not the best thing I ever made, but it was good.  Solid.  Satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs, don't-have-to-choke-it-down, good.  Good enough that I ate it three days in a row, which is rare for me.  But, by lunch #3, I was bored.  "It lacks a certain je ne c'est quoi," I thought.  "But it's still fine - maybe I just don't love chickpeas after all."  When I went to write up this post, I navigated to the original post so I could link it to my own entry.  And I saw it.  And it hit me like a Mack truck.

The honeyed sweet potatoes.  I didn't make them.  "Well no wonder this dish was bad!  I forgot the sweet potatoes!"   You might wonder how that could happen, so I'll give you a limited-time-only glimpse into my psyche and explain.  I was searching for a recipe to make out of pantry staples because I didn't want to have to go to the grocery store.  I conveniently had everything the recipe called for - except the sweet potatoes.  I spent a few minutes debating whether or not I wanted to go to the store, and then I looked outside.  It was raining.  "No sir," I thought.  "Definitely not going to the store just to buy some sweet potatoes."  So, I "forgot" about them.  You see, I didn't actually forget them in the conventional sense, like someone forgets to pay a bill, return a phone call, or pick up the dry-cleaning, but rather, I convinced myself that they never even existed in the first place.  I pushed the sweet potatoes out of my short-term memory and stored them somewhere in my subconscious.  (Side note:  I do this a lot.  I find it works really well for most things, but not so well for other things.)  This would have been caught if I actually followed the recipe while I was cooking, but I made it from memory.  I didn't have it sitting in front of me shouting, "You moron.  You should probably make the sweet potatoes."

Upon my epiphany fifteen minutes ago, the meal, in my hypercritical mind, went from "passable" to downright awful.  Now that I discovered the reason for its suckage, I debated even writing about it.  But, the whole point of this blog is to showcase my successes and laugh about my failures, right?   I'll chalk this misadventure up to selective memory and refusal to follow any recipe to the letter.  I'll call it a failure that kinda-sorta-ends-up-halfway-okay-but-not-really and be done with it.  In fact, I'd venture to say that this would have been the kind of dinner that is force-fed to kids who want dessert.  But I bet with the honeyed sweet potatoes they would have gobbled it down. 

This makes about three lunch-sized servings, but could be served over rice, couscous, or quinoa for a nutritious dinner for two.  Or, ya know, you could just follow the original recipe and make the honeyed sweet potatoes with it.  Also, I know I photographed it with the yogurt sauce, but honestly I wasn't wild about it.  I left it out for my second two servings, so you could probably leave it out too.  But again, maybe it would have been good on the sweet potatoes....

Chickpeas and Spinach with Yogurt Sauce, adapted from Eats Well With Others
Serves 2-3 as a main

1 14 1/2 ounce can chickpeas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 14 1/2 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon brown sugar (I used Splenda brown sugar)
Three handfuls baby spinach
salt and black pepper
6 oz Greek yogurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice and grated zest of one lemon
fresh mint

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, cumin, and coriander.  Toast for eight minutes, while stirring, until golden brown.
2.  Add the tomato paste.  Cook for a minute while stirring.  Add the diced tomatoes and juices and brown sugar.  Cook for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
3.  Stir the spinach into the tomato sauce.  Add the cooked chickpeas.  Mix together and cook for another 5 minutes. 
4. Make the yogurt sauce by whisking together the last four ingredients.
5.  To serve, spoon the warm chickpea mixture into a serving dish.  Spoon the yogurt sauce on top or serve on the side.

Okay, so now that you've suffered through dinner, I've promised dessert.  Reason #58 I am glad I gave up meat instead of sweets this year....

When somebody wants to go get cupcakes, I don't have to say no.  Because I have a hard time saying no to dessert in general, much less cupcakes.

Georgetown Cupcake (photo taken via Instagram)

Here are my thoughts on Georgetown Cupcake.   Full disclosure: I'm a huge fan of the cupcakery's hippie neighbor, Baked & Wired, and they will always hold the key to my cupcake heart.  Ever since Gtown Cupcake got that stupid TV show, the already long line of sweet-toothed patrons has stretched even further down 34th Street and has become even more overrun by out-of-towners.  That said, the cupcakes are flavorful, creative, and very cute - I am just not willing to waste an hour of my life waiting for a tiny cupcake. But, I was down in Georgetown a few nights ago, and my date had never been to Georgetown Cupcake, so it was an obvious choice for dessert.  Yes, the line was down the block, but it moved pretty quickly and I got some great material for Overheard in DC: Tourist Edition, so I can't complain.  Per usual, the cupcakes were super sweet (especially the salted caramel, top right).  The hummingbird (banana & walnut cake with cream cheese frosting) was the highlight for me - out-of-this-world tasty.  Definitely one of my favorites I've had from the shop.  It's one of their seasonal flavors, only available till the end of April, so get it while it's hot.

Have a wonderful Thursday!

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