Last weekend, the Brit asked me where we should go to get lunch and I said "somewhere where I can get a crapload of salads." My ideal refrigerator would be filled with combinations of beans and grains, veggies and vinaigrettes, fruits and nuts, olives and salty cheeses, and all I would have to do is scoop a bit of each one out onto a plate for instant meal mania. Unfortunately, sigh, I will only have that ideal fridge if I spend a bunch of money at the Whole Foods deli or make everything myself.

Bob Barley salad.

When I'm in the mood to make everything myself, this salad recipe from Anger Burger (which is a great read apart from the food stuff) is just the kind of thing I want to make. Hearty, light, tangy, full of delicious cilantro--and I'll just say right now that if you're cilantro-averse, move along right now; there's nothing for you here.

Delicious barley.

Sometime I'll make this exactly as the recipe says, but this time I used what I had on hand (which is, after all, what this blog is about). Here are my mods for this time around:

  • In the absence of red peppers I used about a cup of grape tomatoes and a big shredded carrot. I realize they are not at all the same thing, but they did add a bit of sweetness and crunch.
  • And I was scraping the bottom of my olive oil supply, so there's only 2/3 c in the dressing, which is just fine.
  • I used agave instead of honey, and the dressing is just a bit too sweet for my taste, so I'm guessing I can cut down on the sweetener.
  • I finished it with a squeeze of lime.
  • And I'm eating it with lettuce, because our CSA started last Wednesday and I now feel intense pressure to eat a lot of greens. I think this particular variety is called "Frizzy Headed Drunken Woman," so I'm happy to eat it.


Chomp chomp.

I didn't really learn to cook properly until I stopped eating meat, and I wouldn't have learned to cook very well at all without the Moosewood Cookbook (and its sequels). When I was a newly-minted vegetarian, Mollie Katzen's Gypsy Soup was one of the first recipes I ever tried, and my curried chickpea stew reminds me a lot of her recipe. Or maybe it's just a straight-up ripoff. You can decide. The Gypsy Soup recipe is also one of the only recipes I've ever managed to bollocks up twice in exactly the same way. That recipe calls for paprika; I inadvertently reached for cayenne, and the result was inedibly hot. (You'd think this would be a good argument for labeling your spice jars, but I still buy in bulk and go by smell.) My boyfriend at the time actually bought me two different fancy varieties of paprika after that, as a gently mocking gift--which reminds me, I really ought to buy more smoked paprika. It's delicious.

Anyway, you might call this a "stewp," since it starts out like soup and ends up like stew the longer it sits and absorbs the liquid. It's definitely more delicious the next day. And it is easily veganized, and goes great with nooch.

Curried Chickpea Stew
Olive oil for the pot
1 medium onion, diced
1 big carrot, diced
1 celery stalk, diced
3 fat cloves of garlic, minced
1 fat inch of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 big can of tomatoes
2 potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
1 can chickpeas, or 1.5 cups cooked if you are a good planner
1/3 c quinoa (optional: I had this on hand and like it for the extra protein and texture.)
1-2 T curry powder (this depends on your taste and your curry powder. I added 2 T and it is a bit much.)
1/2 c plain yogurt/soy yogurt (optional, but tasty)
2 good plops of ketchup. You may judge all you want, but ketchup might be the magic secret ingredient here. You could also stir in some tomato paste and maybe a bit of honey or agave, but this does need a little something sweet.
A big handful (really, as much as you like) of dark greens (kale, collards, spinach), chopped

In a big soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery, and saute until onions are translucent. Add garlic and ginger and cook for a minute or two longer.

Dump in tomatoes, chickpeas, potatoes, quinoa, and curry powder, plus an extra cup or two of water (start with one; you can always add more later). When it starts to bubble, reduce the heat and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are tender. Taste the broth and add ketchup and salt to taste. Stir in the greens and cook until wilted. Add yogurt last of all. Taste to adjust the seasonings and serve with crusty bread.

This soup makes excellent leftovers, as evidenced by this picture:
Curried chickpea stew (at the office).
Note the sad office lighting and industrial desk. At least the food is tasty!