Today I’m going to share a recipe with you that came from the lovely Ms. Emily Bennett, who right now is likely writing one of the many (and i mean many) midterms that she has this week at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. She recently moved to the country, and now I miss her even more than when she moved out of the house we shared but was still living in the city. This is a recipe she introduced me to within the first few months of us living together in Toronto, and one that we made many times that first winter on Lansdowne, and that I’ve made many times since. I’ve never seen an actual written recipe for this dish, but somewhere down the line in the past I think there was one (an old roommate of Emily’s made it, I think?) and in many ways this is exactly what I like about it. It’s so easy, and satisfying, and I’ve passed it on to other friends as well.
Here’s what you need to make this:
1 Onion, a bunch of Kale, a can of Chick Peas, Tahini, a clove or two of Garlic, Lemon Juice or a few fresh lemons, Brown Rice.
In the world of vegetarians, most of these ingredients are pretty common to have on hand, which is also why I’ve made this for dinner so often – it’s a pretty good “I don’t know what to eat tonight” meal.
First thing, put some rice on to cook. I use a rice cooker, because frankly I’m not very good at cooking rice and also I generally prefer to have the stovetop space free for other things other than grain-cooking.
So, you chop your onion. Saute it in a large frying pan (I use my trusty wok) in some olive oil. I like to keep the onion in big pieces so you get nice caramelized-y bites in the finished product. As far as I’m concerned, the more onion the merrier in this dish. After a little while, you throw in your chick peas. Basically a whole can works well, but if you want less you can use less.
Now, here’s the thing: try not to stir those chick peas too much. This is extremely difficult for me, it’s like the cooking equivalent of my restless leg syndrome. The first few times Emily and I made this she had to say things to me like “Now Liz, this is one of those things you want to try not to stir” in a kindergarten teacher-like voice. It’s true! You want your chick peas to get crunchy and crispy from sitting on the pan. Try not to stir them!
Once your chick peas have started to crisp up and brown, you can throw in your chopped kale. If you want, you can also toss in a clove or so of minced garlic at this point – I’ve never been able to decide whether I like this more with garlic cooked in with the veggies or raw in the sauce at the end, so I tend to do a little combination of both. Now you want to let your kale cook – you can cover the pan if you want to let it steam a bit, or just stir it around and let it wilt gradually. Honestly, I think that the first time Emily made this for me was probably also one of the first times I’d eaten kale, like, ever. Weird, right?
I know that using fresh lemons is way better than bottled lemon juice, and I used to always have many lemons on hand, but lately I’ve been relying way more on the bottled stuff pictured above. This is probably because I haven’t been buying much produce in grocery stores to begin with lately (since getting the CSA) and because of my new found penchant for making whiskey sours at home. Like, regularly. I have homemade simple syrup in the fridge and then I just use this lemon juice. Sour mix, ta daaaa! And it’s not from concentrate, so it is still delicious and not weird. But I digress. While your stuff is cooking on the stove you want to mix up a little sauce. Throw in some raw garlic (unless you’re raw garlic-averse), some lemon juice, and a hefty bit of tahini. Season it with salt and pepper, throw in a bit of hot sauce if you like, sometimes I add a dash of tamari. Ultimately this is a creamy tahini sauce, but you want the lemon juice (and maybe a teensy bit of warm water) to thin it out and to round out the flavour.
Once your kale is cooked to your liking (I like it to still have a good bite to it, I don’t like sloppy soggy steamer greens), you want to throw in all your cooked rice. Mix all the veggie stuff in and then drizzle in your tahini sauce. Add the sauce a bit at a time so you know how much you want – but I like this to be pretty saturated with the tahini sauce. It makes the meal really creamy and hearty. And that’s it! You eat it!
The thing is, when Emily first made this for me I remember being pretty skeptical. I was still a fairly new vegetarian and had not really been eating particularly healthy in general. Emily had been vegetarian for basically her whole life and was always improvising meals with whatever she had – I was always someone (and still am, I suppose) who wanted to eat what I was CRAVING and not just whatever was around. And this meal seemed so healthy when she was making it, that I was sure I wouldn’t like it. And I loved it! The onions and the crunchy chick peas and the creamy tahini sauce. I honestly crave this all the time. I’m craving it right now. And the thing is, it’s totally healthy. I think it’s probably one of the best meals I eat, especially as a vegetarian who always needs protein. Chick peas are awesome for protein, and so is tahini. Brown rice is obviously healthy, and kale is a superfood! So go forth and make this for dinner! You won’t be sorry! Just try not to stir the chick peas.