I’m ending this year and starting the next one with a recipe that feels well suited to where I’m at lately. It’s comforting, familiar, and easy, all of which are top priorities after a somewhat helter-skelter fall and early winter. And it’s the first recipe that I’ve made in a while that just came to me—it was a real-time craving, not something I’d planned out in my head—which is a small victory after a lot of fraught and dissatisfying cooking in the last couple months.
I spend so much time putting stuff on toast that I sometimes forget how nice it is to pile beans and vegetables and plant meats over other starches: polenta, pasta, and—case in point—potatoes. Mashed potatoes aren’t so much harder to make than regular potatoes, but they sure do announce “comfort food” more clearly. I love having a lot of them in the fridge, to use either as a side dish or as the base of some pile of plant-based goodness or another 🙂
I was thinking distantly of the chickpeas and mushrooms from the dinner toast in Power Plates when I made this, but in the end, the toppings are pretty different. This is super creamy (à la King-ish), which was mostly a concession to the fact that I’d made cashew cream for another recipe earlier the day before, and I’d made extra to freeze. I’m glad that the remainder got used here before it could make it to the freezer, because it makes this meal so much richer and heartier than it would be otherwise.
If you’d like to make this dish with sweet potatoes, by all means, do. If you’d like to add kale or spinach or chard to the chickpea/mushroom mixture, rather than serving it with a green side (like I did here), that’s great. If you’d prefer white beans to chickpeas, that’s also fine. Many modifications will be good here, and you can most definitely treat this meal as one of those bean/green/starch templates that make vegan eating so much simpler, at least conceptually.
1tablespoonall-purpose or gluten-free all purpose flour
1 teaspoondried thyme
2-3teaspoonsfreshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)
1 1/2cupscooked chickpeas (1 14.5-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
optional: fresh, chopped herbs and/or vegan parmesan cheese, for topping
To make the mashed potatoes, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil for 10-12 minutes, or until the potatoes are completely tender. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Use a potato ricer or masher to mash them. Add the non-dairy milk and vegan butter and continue mashing until the potatoes have a consistency that you like, adding more non-dairy milk if needed. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set the potatoes aside.
To make the creamy chickpeas & mushrooms, heat the oil or broth in a large, roomy skillet (preferably non-stick) over medium low heat. Add the shallots. Cook for 2 minutes, or until the shallots are clear. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more, stirring frequently. Add the mushrooms, 1/4 cup vegetable broth, and the tamari. Cook, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released all of their juices and are completely tender (about 6-8 minutes).
Add the remaining broth and cashew cream to the skillet. Stir well. When the liquid is heated through, transfer a ladle of it (about 1/3-1/2 cup) to a small bowl and whisk it together with your flour to create a slurry. When the slurry is smooth and has no visible lumps, pour it back into your skillet and stir everything well. Continue to cook the whole mixture for a minute or two, until the sauce has thickened. Then, stir in the dried thyme and rosemary, lemon, and chickpeas. Taste and add salt and freshly ground pepper as needed.
To serve, divide the mashed potatoes onto plates (about 1 heaping cup per person) and top with a generous spoonful of the chickpea and mushroom mixture. Garnish with fresh herbs and/or vegan parmesan cheese, if you like. Enjoy!
As a substitute for cashew cream, you can use unsweetened vegan cashew or almond yogurt or full-fat coconut milk from the can.
I’m already remembering this dinner fondly as the one that brought me back into my kitchen rhythm after a period of feeling out-of-step with it. It’s nice to be ending 2019 with a meal that was both intuitive and satisfying. I’m hoping that I can carry that sensation and experience into 2020, across different areas of my life.
I wish you all the same, and more. Happy New Year, friends!