I’ve never been more grateful for meals that emerge from two cans, a couple of spices, and twenty minutes of time. This recipe for easy weeknight curried chickpeas and spinach fits the bill, and it has surprising depth of flavor for a dish that comes together with so little cooking time. Paired with a simple whole grain, it’s a perfect formula for a weekday dinner.
Lately, I’ve been thinking back to my early days of writing this blog and how different my approach to food was then. This is not only true of my food philosophy, which has evolved considerably; it’s also true of my practical approach to cooking! When I started blogging, dinner was usually quiet, solitary, and leisurely. I’d come home from my office job, spend some time thinking about what I’d like to make, and then slowly and creatively put something together in the kitchen. I’d eat it at my tiny, two-person high top table, usually as I did some editing, with plenty of time to savor the whole experience.
Times have changed. The spirit of culinary creativity is definitely under duress as I enter the last four weeks of my semester. Gone are the days of spontaneous meals and kitchen experiments; I’d never manage to get food on the table if I didn’t make a weekly menu plan and follow through on it. And as much as I hate to admit it, evening meals are a pretty rushed affair lately. I come home hungry, and there’s usually work to be done after I eat, so the goal is simply to execute something healthy and satisfying in minimal time. If I do have a quiet evening, I’d rather spend quality time with Steven than labor too much over a recipe.
I really miss a slower pace when it comes to cooking and eating, and I’m looking forward to July and August, when I’ll have some down time in the kitchen. I’ll be diving into recipe development for the new cookbook, which will be a lot of fun.
But for now, I’m looking at faster evening meals as a good creative challenge. And it’s also a good way to connect with all of you, since I know that most readers of this blog have busy lifestyles and need recipes that are healthy, flavorful, and fast.
These curried chickpeas I’m sharing today don’t break any cooking molds. They feature a familiar curry spice blend in a rich, tomato based sauce. But they’re bold, flavorful, and satisfying, and if you pair them with a whole grain, you’ll have a complete meal on your hands in minimal time. The leftovers are also delicious (I think the beans are actually tastier after a night or two in the fridge, so that the flavors can marry), and they can be served with grains, pasta, or piled on top of a few slices of hearty toast.
Easy Weeknight Curried Chickpeas and Spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 white or yellow onion chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup or agave optional--helps to balance the acidity of the tomatoes
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinse
- 1 14- ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1/3 cup tomato paste
- 3-4 heaping cups baby spinach
- 4 cups cooked quinoa brown rice, or millet, for serving
- Optional: 1/2 cup non-dairy yogurt my favorite is Nancy's plain soy yogurt for topping
- First: if you're cooking up a whole grain, bring the grain and water to boil, lower to a simmer, and allow the grain to cook while you're making the curried chickpeas.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a medium sized pot or a large skillet. Add the onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and clear (about 5 minutes). Add the curry, cumin, coriander, turmeric, and salt; stir to combine.
- Add the maple syrup, chickpeas, tomatoes, and tomato past. Use a spoon to break down some of the larger tomato peaces and mix everything well. Simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes, or until the tomato sauce has thickened. Stir in the baby spinach, cover the chickpeas, and allow the spinach to wilt down. After two minutes or so, stir the mixture well.
- Serve the curried chickpeas and spinach over your whole grain. Top with two tablespoons of plant-based yogurt, if desired.
I hope that these chickpeas can help you out on a night when you’re in a pinch and want to create an easy pantry meal. And even if you’re not pressed for time, I hope you’ll enjoy the flavors and the satisfying texture. Feel free to substitute cashew cream, avocado slices, tofu feta, a drizzle of coconut milk, or a spoonful of tahini dressing for the non-dairy yogurt!
And now, back to work. Happy end-of-the-week to all of you, and see you for weekend reading!