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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.


  1. Sally says:

    Yay!! You’re back!! I’m so glad the stove works well for you. I understand those ceramic tops are really nice to cook on. Your thoughts?

  2. I am now a big fan of the ceramic cooktop. The burners are responsive and really do a good job, and the rest of the cooktop stays surprisingly cool when one burner is hot. And the smooth top is so easy to clean. My only regret is that I can’t use my cast iron on it; I can still use the skillet in the oven but I think the grill pan will have to be packed away for a while. (Of course it can sit in abeyance virtually forever as long as I make sure it doesn’t rust, so that’s not a huge issue.)

  3. Sally says:

    A ceramic cooktop stove is one of the best writing process metaphors I’ve ever heard. I can’t remember who the author was (the inspiring quote folder is still packed somewhere), but he likened writing to figuring out which burner is “lit” on one of those stoves. “You have to search for the hotspots,” he said. “That’s where the energy is.” I really took that to heart. It makes so much sense.

  4. Radhika says:

    The new stove is a beauty, Amy! And the chickpea stew looks great. We cook a lot of chickpeas at home as well—usually curried with Indian spices.

  5. Samantha says:

    I know that you don’t want to rewrite these recipes but would you please give a chickpea-to-spinach-and-onion ratio? This sounds like something we would really like!

  6. Two 10-ounce boxes of frozen spinach, thawed and the excess liquid squeezed out; two 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed; one medium onion, diced. Also one green pepper, diced; four cloves of garlic, minced; 2 teaspoons of curry powder; 3/4 cup of water; and one 16-ounce can of diced or sliced tomatoes, including the liquid.

    For the rice: enough rice for 8 servings, more or less; 1 bunch of parsley, big stems cut off, and a small bunch of scallions, chunked up (then throw the parsley and scallions into the food processor to mince); 2 tablespoons of butter; salt and pepper to taste.

  7. Samantha says:

    Thank you!

    I’m planning aloo gobi with yams instead of white potatoes this week but this one is on for the week following. Just because I could eat Indian and Indian-type food every day doesn’t mean I live with someone who could…

  8. Samantha says:

    Hey, I made this yesterday and we really like it! I did exactly as you demonstrated and in fact the only thing I would do differently is use fresh spinach instead of frozen – though the frozen was perfectly fine. After all, wouldn’t it take a truly massive amount of fresh spinach to get two pounds of cooked-down spinach? Hm, maybe I’ll stick with the frozen…

    (and the sweet potato aloo gobi was really good. Just boost the curry powder and the heat)

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