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November 1st, 2009:

Vegetarian Express

curried chickpea stew, green rice, tossed salad

StewAndSaladWe’re back, babies! I’m still catching up with the rest of my life, but it’s time for another 107 Cookbooks post, with dinner cooked using the new stove. You can see it in the second photo at right. Isn’t that nice? A smooth ceramic top, and it heats quickly and efficiently. The oven works well too, but wasn’t needed for tonight’s recipe.

NewStove1Vegetarian Express is a book I’ve owned for some years, and used to be one of my go-to cookbooks. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve made the rotini with spinach, chickpeas and sun-dried tomatoes…well, I probably couldn’t retire tomorrow but I could at least get a new MetroCard. I stopped using it as much when I began eating meat again, but frankly, I should add it Saladback into the regular rotation, because the recipes are good and the preparation is pretty quick. It’s clearly written, too; the instructions are neatly organized, and the recipes are arranged in menus so it’s easy to assemble a wholesome dinner.

The cookbook promises meals within 30 minutes. I didn’t quite reach that tonight — it was more Onionlike 60 — but that’s partly because I hadn’t organized the ingredients as well ahead of time as I might have and partly because I didn’t have enough clear counterspace to streamline my prep. But it was straightforward nonetheless. I started with the rice, which I made in a rice cooker. (It was supposed to be brown rice but I GreenPeppersdidn’t have any.) While it cooked, I prepared the lettuce for the salad, then diced onion, green pepper and garlic for the stew. I heated some olive oil in the stew pot and sauteed the onion and green pepper, then added garlic, chickpeas (canned, rinsed and drained), curry powder (a nice hot blend from Penzeys) and some water. This first stage of the stew StewStage1cooked for about 5 minutes. And I spent a few minutes being grateful to have a working stove.

While it cooked, I cut the large stems off the parsley and chunked up some scallions. These went into a food processor to mince. I set them aside and tended to the next stage of the stew: I added a can of sliced tomatoes with the liquid, two StewSecondStage310-ounce packages of frozen spinach that had been thawed and squeezed, and a bit of salt. This cooked for another 10 minutes.

By this point the rice was done. I had forgotten to melt two tablespoons of butter, but I cut the cold butter into the rice and let it sit for a moment to melt, then stirred in the parsley and ParsleyScallionsMincescallions along with some salt and pepper. I mixed this up well and let it sit warming in the cooker for a few more minutes while I finished chopping celery and rinsing cherry tomatoes for the salad. Everything was ready, so I put some rice into bowls, then topped it with the stew, and dished up salad.

GreeningTheRice2Verdict: Success. The stew was tasty, with a good blend of flavors; the spinach, tomato and curry blended well, and the rice was a good base for it all. (Brown rice would have been good too.) The prep was simple and it was easy to keep things organized and to clean up afterward. I will be making this again, and using the cookbook RiceAndStewCloseup2again.