Buffalo Chickpea Bowl

IMG_20180529_193252851When it becomes too long since I have made a buffalo-ed dish, Will gets antsy. It had been even longer since I attempted a new dish from the “Will it Buffalo?” suggestions (more on that here). I envisioned a creamy curry-inspired sauce, spicy with the usual heat, and cooled by complementary bleu cheese dressing. The result is not heavy at all, but satisfies the buffalo craving usually satiated with wings. This was one of those magical times when the dish I ended up with was exactly what I imagined, and I hope you’re as pleased with it as I am.

I’ve tagged all previous Will it Buffalo? dishes so you can easily find them. Happy buffalo-ing!

Buffalo Chickpea Bowls

Serves 6

  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 medium head broccoli
  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • Salt
  • 2 tablespoons neutral oil, such as olive, sunflower, or vegetable, divided
  • 1 cup diced onion (1 small, or 1/2 a very large one)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 15.5 ounce cans, or about 3 1/2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15-ounce can coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s, for moderate spice, more or less if you please
  • 1/2 cup bleu cheese dressing
  • 1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles (optional)
  • 2 scallions, minced

If you’re making the bleu cheese dressing yourself, start with that and then let it sit in the fridge while you wait.

Put the 2 1/2 cups water in a small pot with a cover to boil with a pinch of salt. When it comes to a boil add in the brown rice, turn the heat down to medium low, and cook for 40 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 425F and get out two baking sheets. Chop the broccoli and cauliflower into florets (1-2 inches long). Toss the florets with the 1 tablespoon oil, sprinkle with a few pinches of salt, and toss to combine. Distribute evenly on two baking sheets, and roast for 20-25 minutes, tossing the florets and switching the pans after 15 minutes. I find the pan I have on the bottom rack first is usually done after 20 minutes, but the other pan needs a few extra minutes to brown. The florets should be fork tender and charred at the edges when done.

Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the onion to the pan, and cook for 5-10 minutes until softened and translucent. Add the garlic, and cook for 1-2 minutes more until fragrant. Add the coconut milk and hot sauce to the pan and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered for 5-10 minutes until it starts to thicken, then add the chickpeas. Simmer for 5 minutes.

To serve put rice in a bowl, top with roasted broccoli and cauliflower, then the saucy chickpeas, and finish with a drizzle of bleu cheese dressing, scallions, and bleu cheese crumbles if you desire (I prefer not to so that is what the photo shows, but my dining companions were very pro-crumble).

 

 

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A story of three failures

I

A few weeks ago I made spinach pasta on a Sunday night. It wasn’t a particularly complicated recipe, but it involved cooking the spinach, straining and chopping it, then adding it to the dough as you made it, resting the dough, rolling it out, and cooking it. Since that didn’t seem like a particularly hard project (many parts, but none difficult), I was also prepping a few other things for the week ahead.

But the evening got away from me, and by the time I was actually cooking the pasta it was much later than I expected (almost 9pm). Since fresh pasta is often promised to be a transcendent and simple meal, I hadn’t planned to dress it with more than some butter, olive oil, and Parmeggiano Reggiano. I tasted some from the pan and was instantly disappointed by the blandness. Where was my transcendent simplicity????????????

This failure exacerbated stresses that were building for the work-week, and led to me sobbing over my terrible pasta that I had put so much effort into. (While I was finishing crying, Will excavated some pesto from the freezer and started defrosting it to save my dinner, and therefore wins Husband-of-the-Year one hundred times over.)

II

The next week I wanted to try a simple (catching a theme here?) vegan soup that involved a vibrantly green and thick herb coconut broth, broccoli, snap peas, tofu, and rice. In the cookbook photo the author used black rice noodles, which were incredibly dramatic and contrasted beautifully with the green broth. The photo of this dish makes you feel cleansed and restored just from looking at it. Like you’ve achieved absolute purity and suddenly understand why vegans forego meat and are ready to give it up forever too.

My first failure was in the liquid. A high speed blender was called for to combine the coconut milk, broth, and herbs. I don’t own a $500 blender, and I figured my stick blender could stand in as it usually does for pureed soups. Since the coconut milk/broth/lemongrass mixture is supposed to steep off the stove I tried to use my stick blender directly in the bowl it was cooling in. After a small wave covered my counter, I switched to the food processor. No amount of time processing would yield the thick, uniformly green broth the photo. Instead I was left with a thin broth with flecks of cilantro throughout. Given I wasn’t using the right equipment to start I wasn’t too dissuaded.

The recipe notes said to serve it with rice noodles or rice, and I happened to have black rice! I cooked some up, made my meager broth, and added in the vegetables and tofu. When it was time to serve, the rice went into the bowl, and was topped by the soup. But I had not rinsed the rice thoroughly enough. What had been a passable green broth, was now the color of mud.

I’m not one to judge a meal by its looks. But the photo I had for comparison was just so beautiful, and I was staring down at a puddle. I hoped taste would change my mind, but what I was eating did not live up to my expectations. It was thin, herby, flat, and very……healthy tasting. Like something I should always eat, but would never want to. It tasted like how people who hate vegan food on principle expect vegan food to taste. (I make vegan food on the regular and it can be overwhelmingly delicious, but this was not one of those times.)

III

Last week I knew I had an especially long work-day ahead of me, so I planned a fool-proof and almost effortless meal: tortellini with pesto and roasted asparagus. I was NOT making the pasta this time (it came pre-made from Wegmans). The pesto would be the last from the stash in the freezer that I was reminded about when Will used it to save my previous pasta dinner. The asparagus would go in the oven at 425F with salt, pepper, and olive oil for 15 minutes.

I put the asparagus in the oven and put the water on to boil. I had a double pack of tortellini, but decided to cook both in case we needed extra meals later in the week. This was a total of eight servings of pasta, which is way more than I usually make, but figured it would be useful when I had to work over the weekend.

The water on to boil, and put asparagus went in the oven. I put about the same amount of water in the pot I use for a pound of pasta, and didn’t think twice about it. The tortellini was in two separate but attached packs, and when I put the first in the pot was almost full, but it seemed like more could fit in. Partway through the addition of the second pack the water came dangerously close to the top, and I was in trouble. I took out a measuring cup to remove some of the water, but couldn’t remove enough of it in time. the tortellini threatened to boil over, and I knew the rest couldn’t fit in the pan…but I tried anyways.

Had I never made pasta before? Did I not understand that doubling the amount of pasta you make means you should also double the size or number of vessels you cook them in?

It was too late in the game to criticize myself; I just had to fix the problem. Some water went into the kettle to boil quickly, and I moved some of the pasta into a small pot. The tortellini monster was subdued for the moment. Eventually everything was cooked but somehow not overcooked, and I returned to the glass of wine I had hurtfully ignored.

The asparagus, by the way, was perfect.

IV

At work I teach kids cooking classes. Cooking with children is always an adventure, and often times they are doing something for the first time ever with me as their guide: cracking an egg, using a knife, measuring the flour. I always leave room for error in these situations and tell them this: sometimes when we cook we get delicious food, sometimes delicious food and a lesson, and sometimes just the lesson. But no matter what, you walk away with something.

Recent Cooking and Reading

Hey! How are you? What have you been cooking? April was a whirlwind, and half of the month was spent traveling around England visiting family and friends (more on that soon). Here are a few things I’ve been eating and reading.

Spaghetti Puttanesca (Serious Eats) – This whole year has been a building love affair with Serious Eats. Their recipes are so varied, reliable, and always delicious. This recipe has a quick turnaround, and the finished product has more flavor than it seems possible to produce in such a short period of time. I suppose putting capers, olives, anchovies, and garlic in a dish will do that. Even if one of those ingredients scares you, please still try this. They reach amazing harmony together, and no one ingredient overpowers.

20180426_192230Street Cart Style Chicken and Rice from Smitten Kitchen Every Day (adapted here) – I first made this dish in December, and can’t for the life of me figure out why I waited until last week to make it again. I’m even struggling to describe why it is so good. The mixture of spices? Slight acidity? Hit of heat from hot sauce and harissa? Creamy yogurt sauce? Crunchy salad? Just make it, and then again soon.

20180424_121025Everything bánh mì. Will and I finally found out perfect bánh mì spot (here if you live in MA!!!!). But, it is a longer drive than I find conducive to weekly bánh mì consumption. So instead I made this lemongrass bánh mì (but with chicken by accident…because I forgot to put tofu on the grocery list) and this breakfast bánh mì with the leftover daikon/carrot slaw, cukes, and cilantro. You can’t go wrong with either.

Green falafel (101 Cookbooks). Falafel is my Achilles heel. Every time I’ve tried to fry falafel at home it has disintegrated in the oil. Yes, I’ve baked them to some success, but they are never as good. This recipe is definitely a ways removed from what you would get at a falafel joint, but easy to make, actually sticks together, packs in an impressive amount of greenery, and pan fries nicely. I think I can say I’ve found my go-to falafel recipe.

The New Noma: Frequently Asked Questions. I don’t know what I am going to do when Pete Wells retires. Who will I look up to???? He simultaneously makes me want to eat everything he does, and be a better writer so when I do eat at places like Noma I can write about them like this. I love how he switches up the formats of his reviews. (Do I even need to direct you here? If it’s your first read, YOU’RE WELCOME.) They are clever, playful, but also deeply appreciative and thoughtful.

A Long Answer to a Simple Question: How Do You Eat a Slice of Pizza? While out for pizza last Friday night I pulled this up to reread and was laughing out loud. Read the whole thing, preferably with a slice in hand.