Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Cooking Floyd: Dark Days Challenge: March, Week 15

This week is a double Dark Days Challenge: The Vegetarian Challenge.

I was able to score some really nice baby bok choy at the Oasis Market in Blacksburg last week.  That along with some NC potatoes and not local or organic, but sustainable and ethical chick peas and black beans were the players in our vegetarian meal.

I started out with the Savory Baked Garbanzo Beans from Anna Thomas' The Vegetarian Epicure.  This recipe is one of my favorite ways to eat chickpeas.  I add grated Parmesan over the top before baking.

2 cans garbanzo (chickpea) beans, drained and rinsed
3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped (I used a pint jar of home canned diced tomatoes
1 large, fresh green pepper, cut into thin matchsticks (I used an equivalent amount of our frozen, diced peppers)
1 onion, cut into thin slices
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
sweet basil
(I used about a tablespoon of frozen Fines Herbes paste)
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan (optional)

Heat some olive oil in an ovenproof casserole or pan over medium heat and add the green pepper, onion and garlic.  Saute for a few minutes until softened.  Add the herbs and tomatoes.  Simmer for a minute or two and then add the chickpeas.  Combine well, sprinkle with optional Parmesan, cover tightly, and then bake in a 325F oven for an hour.

Beans and potatoes eaten together compliment each other and make a complete protein.  While the chickpeas were baking I prepared Gujerati-style Hot Sweet and Sour Potatoes from Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian.  This was the first time I prepared this and I would tweak it next time.

2 1/2 cups potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" dice and placed in cold water (next time I'll do a larger dice and cut an extra cup and a half)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil
10-15 fresh curry leaves, if available, or Thai basil if not (I used Genovese basil paste)
1 1/2-2 tablespoons thick tamarind paste (next time I'm cutting this way back to a scant tablespoon)
1/2 cup peeled and chopped very ripe tomatoes (I used a half pint of home canned)
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Drain the potatoes, pat them dry and put them in a bowl.  Combine the salt, cayenne, turmeric, cumin, and coriander.  Add to the potatoes and toss well, thoroughly coating them.

Put the oil in a deep frying pan over medium high heat.  When the oil is hot, add the potatoes, browning them well.

Add 1 cup of water, the curry leaves or basil, tamarind, tomatoes and brown sugar.  Bring to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer.  Simmer the potatoes until soft and the sauce has thickened (10-15 minutes).  Stir occasionally.  If the sauce isn't thick enough, crush a few of the potato cubes and stir in.

Lastly I made Braised Baby Bok Choy.  This is easy and fast, taking only about 10 minutes.

3-4 baby bok choy per person, cleaned and halved
4 large cloves of garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon fish sauce

Combine the oil, garlic and fish sauce in a cold cast iron or other heavy pan.  Place the bok choy in the pan, cut side down.  Turn the heat on to medium.  When the bok choy begin to sizzle, cover the pan and cook for 7-8 minutes.  Occasionally lift the lid and wiggle the bok choy so they don't stick.  After 7-8 minutes, turn the heat off and allow the bok choy to finish on the residual burner heat while the other dishes are being finished.

Lastly, dessert was a total cheat.  One of my fellow Master Food Volunteers shared this at a meeting and I had to try it.  I'm always looking for ways to get more protein, fiber, B12, and antioxidents into us and this is a simple delicious way to do it.  I'm not a baker but I'm hoping at some point someone will give me a recipe to replace the boxed mix.

Black Bean Walnut Brownies
1 box brownie mix
1 15 oz can black beans
1 cup of water
1 generous cup or so of toasted walnut pieces

Heat oven to the temperature and prepare a baking pan as recommended on the box mix.

Drain and rinse the black beans, then puree with the water.  Combine the mix and the pureed beans. Stir in the walnuts.  Do not add any of the other ingredients the mix directions tell you to!  No oil, no eggs, no anything!  Just the stuff listed above.  Bake according to box directions.

What you'll end up with are thick, fudgey, dark chocolatey-tasting walnut brownies with less fat and more added fiber, protein, antioxidents and vitamins.  Don't tell anyone they're eating beans.  Trust me, they'll never know.

I probably undid all the good in the brownies by serving them with a tiny scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of Black Forest Cherry Preserves.


  1. OH MY GOSH - I don't have enough room in the recap to write about all this! AND I WANT TO! What an amazing meal. The gujerati-style hot sweet and sour potatoes are calling out to me. And I can totally wrap by brain around brownies with beans in them. I will try making up a homemade mix and adding the beans. NICE.

  2. OK, I have to try these brownies.

    And I like what you did with the chickpeas. Lots of good recipes coming to us in this challenge