Vegan since 1975, I decide to answer the question, "What DO you eat?" These posts tell about some meals and recipes my family and I have enjoyed over the years.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Coconut Chick Peas, Quinoa, Greens and Salad


I had a creepy experience last night while preparing to make some QUINOA and COCONUT CHICKPEAS. You'll remember I said I have attempted to be a vegan for the past thirty five years?

Now I find, upon looking at the microscopic ingredient list on my Thai Kitchen Red Curry Paste which I've used occasionally for years, which my curiosity led me to examine with a large magnifying glass, that it contains anchovy extract and shrimp paste. Grrr. Poor little shrimp and anchovies! And, I am sorry, children, for I knew not what I did.

I promptly disposed of it and then cut my thumb on a can's edge, which made the dinner last night take an hour to prepare, though normally it might take at the most forty five minutes. I hope this is penance enough, along with now giving you an alternative to typical Thai cooking. My vegan version has everything else that the paste would normally have had, with the exception of the fennel seed and tamarind paste, which luckily I had on hand, but would normally have forgotten to add to my dish. (I think they have changed the formula since I wrote this, or I was using a very old version. Yet the moral of the story remains: always read labels before you buy new products. Look for the green V for vegan, or to see if it says vegan, or at least get to know what isn't vegan, and do your own determining.)


I first used my rice cooker to cook two cups of dry QUINOA in a little less than two cups of water, which I washed off first in a sieve. Quinoa has a soapy protective covering, so you should always rinse this grain, though I recommend rinsing off all grains, as who knows where they've been. 

Quinoa is a small grain that resembles cous-cous, but is an entire whole grain, and a very nutritious and delicate one favored by the Incas. When it is cooked it has tiny delicate white rings that sit around each grain, which might put some people off, but they should try it first before complaining. My son did admit later that he had enjoyed the taste, after all. 

I cooked some Red Russian Kale over the quinoa in the steamer portion of my cooker, but, again, this could be done in two pots on the stove. The quinoa only takes about as long as white rice to cook, twenty minutes on the lowest setting in a covered pot, after boiling it for five minutes in the uncovered pot.

To make the COCONUT CHICKPEAS I chopped a large onion and sautéed it in a tablespoon of olive oil, adding five cloves of chopped garlic after the onions were softened.

I carefully chopped up two small hot red peppers (I used Roland brand in a jar that I had on hand in the refrigerator), trying not to touch them with my hands.

I added one tablespoon of sweetener (use your favorite kind—I used organic sugar), two tablespoons of tamarind paste (available at Chinese groceries, and it will last a long time in the refrigerator. Mine came with large seeds in it,though the package stated seedless—I just pick them out of the sweet brown paste that is dried tamarind fruit), a quarter teaspoon of fennel seeds, a teaspoon of vegetarian Worcestershire sauce, one sprig each chopped fresh basil and parsley, or half a teaspoon of dried, and two tablespoons of tamari soy sauce (substitute Bragg's liquid seasoning if that is too much salt for you).
To the seasonings I added three fifteen ounce cans of garbanzo beans and one quarter cup of light coconut milk. The light coconut milk (I used an organic brand) has only three and a half grams of fat for the entire dish.

While the chickpeas were simmering I made a SALAD. This version featured a base of green lettuce and a handful of mixed salad greens, with a grated carrot, a grated one inch piece of fresh gingeroot, one cubed red pear, two cubed peeled kiwis, an eighth a cup of raisins and one cubed avocado. I served it with an organic creamy miso dressing that my daughter bought at a local Hannafords supermarket, a chain which has added a lot of their own organic brand products to their natural food aisle in recent years. Although I buy the bulk of my food through one of two natural food buying clubs or at my local co-op, I do like to encourage the regular supermarkets to cater to my needs as well, so I shop at them, too. It helps to have regular places to shop when you travel.

I served the chickpeas over the quinoa, with the greens (sprinkled with balsamic vinegar) to the side, and the salad and dressing however you want it.
This meal seemed to go over well with the family and guest last night (it would serve six people), and there are a few leftovers for today's lunch.

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