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Cinnamon Chickpea Stew with Crispy Cauliflower Florets

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I don’t know about you but I have some clean-eating to do since the Thanksgiving holiday and the continued after-feasts through the New Year. I took some time this weekend to make a healthy, satisfying stew to counteract the recent past and upcoming eating activities.

I didn’t run to the store to buy anything for this dish and I encourage you to do the same.  Work with what you have, you will be a better cook for it!  Canned beans are a staple in my pantry; as are spices and I always have some fresh vegetables waiting for its purpose.  The flavors in this stew are definitely inspired by a cross between Latin America and the Middle East, regions of the world that share several flavor profiles.  Cinnamon and chili powder give this one pot dish aromatic warmth and cumin provides an earthy backdrop.  Fried cauliflower dusted with cayenne and a touch more cinnamon is a pretty garnish and extra boost of nutrients.  Don’t worry, when cauliflower is fried at the proper temperature, it does not absorb much oil at all, rather it just improves its texture and enhances its natural sweetness.   This is vegan friendly dish, but no one will notice if you don’t say a thing.

Ingredients & Method (serves 4-6, depending on appetite)

  • 2 – 15 oz cans, chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 – 15 oz can, diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, small dice
  • 1 large yam, small dice
  • 1 head Lacinato kale (sometimes called Tuscan or Dino), chopped
  • 2 Teaspoon cinnamon plus ½ t
  • 2 Teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon chili powder
  • 3 Cup vegetable stock
  • ½ Teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 small head of cauliflower or half a large head, cut into florets
  • 2 Cup canola oil or any neutral oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ Cup picked cilantro leaves

Add oil to a heavy bottomed pot, about 5 quarts in size and heat on medium high.  Once oil is warm and shimmering (not smoking), add onions and sprinkle with salt.  Cook until onions become translucent in color, about 6 minutes.  Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for another 2 minutes or until garlic is fragrant.  Add chickpeas and yam and sprinkle with a bit more salt.  Add cumin, chili powder and 2 t cinnamon and a pinch more salt and stir well.  Add tomatoes and vegetable stock and stir again.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cover for about 20 minutes.

While the stew is cooking, in another heavy pan, heat canola oil until oil reaches 350 degrees.  Fry cauliflower florets for about 1 minute or less, until a light golden brown.  Drain on paper towel lined plate and dust with cayenne pepper, ½ t cinnamon and salt to taste.

Remove cover from stew and stir in kale until just wilted.  Re-season with salt to taste and squeeze of lemon juice.

To serve, ladle stew in bowls and garnish with cauliflower and cilantro leaves.

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