Life is beautifully full these days. Between caring for an energetic toddler and running my own business while attempting to carve out some time to cook, have a social life, exercise, pursue creative things and do laundry? It’s full-on. And wonderful. And then there are days when I feel that I may just lose it.
We were sitting down to dinner the other night, to a very simple meal that I had thrown together in a mad dash. My husband took a few bites, looked up and said: “This is really, really good.”
“Really?” I asked in disbelief. “I actually cooked the whole thing in 10 minutes and in the same pot” (a triumph for me – I’m a bit of a tornado in the kitchen).
“This is the kind of thing you should blog, Sarah. People like simple things.”
Not that I had forgotten this fact, but I also feel the need to like, blow your minds most of the time. Or at least attempt to, ya know? This was not a blow-your-mind kind of dinner. It was made on a busy weeknight from stuff we had in the fridge and pantry, while a hangry 2-year-old clung to my bare legs since he had already pulled my pants off. If this situation sounds familiar, this dinner will be your new go-to. It’s simple, fast, easy, and most importantly, very delicious. Just because you’re going insane doesn’t mean that you’ve lost all sense of taste. In fact, saving one’s sanity often hinges on proximity to good food, as evidenced by post break-up ice cream binges, and bad-day-at-work pizza parties. I get it.
Legume-based pastas have been popping up in regular grocery stores all over Copenhagen lately, and I am loving them! They are made from just legumes (red lentils, green peas, adzuki beans etc.), they cook in about 6 minutes and contain unbelievably high amounts of protein and fiber, thanks to the only ingredient being, well, legumes. Although I have some “rules” in my diet which exclude most things that I couldn’t recreate in my own kitchen, these pastas are a serious life-saver when I don’t have a ton of time to make dinner, and a seriously great alternative to wheat pasta. I will compromise a little when my sanity is on the line, won’t you?
The brilliance of this dish, besides the fact that it is so fast to make, is that it’s cooked in just one pot! Although it differs from the one-pot pastas I’ve seen online where everything is cooked together from the beginning, my version requires a little bit of timing on your part, adding the asparagus and peas about three minutes before the pasta is cooked. Theoretically, you could toss everything together in the same pot from the get-go, but this produces overcooked veggies, and no one really digs that.
You can use any legume-based pasta you like this, in any shape that appeals to you. And, you can really pick any seasonal veggies that cook in the same amount of time or slightly less than the pasta. It’s great with broccoli, sweet potato, green beans, zucchini or snap peas. I even enjoy this dish cold – so it’s the perfect make-and-take meal for a picnic dinner.
If you are not vegan, this is delicious with some grated Pecorino Romano grated in, or crumbled feta.
Sanity-Saving One Pot Pasta Serves 4-6
200g legume-based pasta (I used mung bean fettucini)
1 lb. / 500g asparagus
2 cups / 300g fresh or frozen shelled green peas
sea salt for cooking water and garnish
4 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
zest of 1 organic lemon
3 Tbsp. capers (about 1 small 60g jar)
A large handful fresh mint, leaves only
1. Put a large pot of water on the stove and heat over a high flame.
2. While the water is heating up, wash, trim, and chop the asparagus. Shell the peas (or take them out of the fridge / freezer). Wash and roughly chop the mint. Once the cooking water is boiling, salt it generously (it should taste salty).
3. Add the pasta and set a timer for about 3 before the suggested cooking time. Three minutes before the pasta is done, add the asparagus and peas. Cook for three minutes. Drain well and place back in the pot. Add the olive oil, lemon zest, drained capers and a few pinches of sea salt. Season to taste. Fold in the fresh mint and serve.
My husband and I come from two different worlds: a potato chip world and a tortilla chip world. I distinctly remember the moment we realized this, on our honeymoon, deep in a Whole Foods vortex deciding which chips to buy for our three-week road trip across California. We were undoubtedly surprised and perhaps a little dismayed that we had committed our lives to each other without discussing this one rather important preference, but in the spirit of everlasting love and compromise, we pretended like it was no big deal. We bought two bags of chips and ate them separately. We remain happily married to this day.
I guess growing up in North America has had a real influence on me (shocking, I know). Tortilla chips and salsa was a classic childhood snack, especially at backyard barbeques, birthday parties and sleepovers. We would take a family-size bag out on picnics, road trips, and sometimes my dad would toss a few in my lunchbox, right beside the Wonderbread sandwich and fun fruits. Not joking. Anyway, I don’t really eat a lot of chips these days (another shocker), but that doesn’t mean that the occasional one doesn’t somehow sneak past my lips from time to time. I’m only human.
This idea to make tortilla chips from chickpea flour literally came out of nowhere. I don’t even remember what I was doing when the lightening bolt struck me, but it was fast and furious and I dropped absolutely everything to make them immediately, almost like I didn’t want the inspiration to get away on me! Thirty minutes later, the chips were in my belly. So fast and easy, I couldn’t believe it. Which lead my overly-excited mind, hepped on folate and molybdenum, to turn towards nachos. I mean, why wouldn’t I go there?
These chickpea tortilla nachos are crisp and golden, just like tortilla chips, but with a more satisfying and substantial heft to them, delivered by pure chickpea goodness. They are so filling and rich that it’s impossible to overeat them (that is not a challenge). And with really just two ingredients, how can you go wrong?! I’m going to experiment with making large rectangular flatbreads out of this dough too, which will be prefect for lunches, maybe with some seedy add-ins, spice blends, and I am dying to try a Doritos knock-off! I have a Cool Ranch makeover itch that needs to be scratched, if you know what I’m sayin’.
Snack smarter! If you’re an enthusiastic snacker like myself, you’ll relate to the challenge in finding snacks that are balanced, healthy, and actually sustain you for some time until the next meal. “Food satiety”, is the measure of how full food makes us feel and how long it keeps our appetite at bay. Although calories definitely contribute to the of feeling fullness, a high calorie count does not always reflect the satiating power a food has. Factors that effect food satiety also include fiber, protein, and water content. And it is surprising that high fat foods, which are typically very caloric, tend to have lower satiating power.
Because of their high fiber and protein content, along with their remarkable ability to stabilize digestion, chickpeas and things made with chickpea flour (like these chickpea tortilla nachos) fall into the category of serious filler-uppers, even though they only contain a moderate amount of calories. It’s a win-win. One serving of these chips (about one-quarter of the recipe / 12 chips) delivers 11 grams of protein (!!!) and 5 grams of fiber for under 300 calories. Not that I am a numbers girl at all, it can be helpful to take note of these things, especially if you are someone interested in weight management.
Other snacks that rank high on the food satiety scale are popcorn, pears, raspberries, oatmeal, beans, avocado, and chia seeds. Fill up on these guys to get, well, full.
If you’re buying chickpea flour for the first time, know that it’s available at most health food stores and natural grocers, where it can sometimes be sold under the names garbanzo bean flour and cici flour. Your most reliable source however, is an Indian grocer or market, where it is typically labeled besan or gram flour.
So yea, nachos. The chips kind of demanded it. And I had more legal fun making a mountain of food than you could ever imagine. Layer upon layer of black beans, lime, avocado, onion, toasted pumpkin seeds, chili…bah! And the cilantro avocado crema is soooo delicious – not essential – but a major flavour and texture bonus. You can dollop it throughout the nacho pyramid as you build, kind of like tasty spackle, or put the crema into a squeeze bottle for drizzle fun. Everyone loves drizzle fun. The plate comes together like you’re witnessing some sort of awesome miracle take place, and then you get to eat it.
And just for the record my potato chip-loving husband devoured these tortilla chips. He would like to add that he is not a convert, just appreciative.
Chickpea Tortilla Chips Makes about 50 chips
2 cups / 250g chickpea flour
1 ½ tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ cup / 60ml coconut oil, melted
4-6 Tbsp. warm water
1. Sift the chickpea flour, salt, pepper and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut oil and mix with your hands until the dough is crumbly. Add ¼ cup / 60ml warm water and stir until the dough comes together. If the dough is not sticking together add more water, a teaspoon at a time, until it does. Do not overwork the dough.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.
3. Place the ball of dough onto a sheet of baking paper and flatten into a rough disc. Place another sheet of baking paper on top of the dough and using a rolling pin, roll out as thin as possible – I cannot emphasize this enough (if you don’t have large baking sheets, it may help to divide the dough in half and work in two batches). The thinner the dough, the lighter and crispier your chips will be. Remove the top layer of baking paper and score the dough into triangles. Slide the baking paper and dough onto a baking sheet and place in the oven. Bake for 10-13 minutes until the chips are golden around the edges.
4. Enjoy chips warm on a nacho plate, or once completely cool, transfer them to an airtight container where they will keep for up to two weeks.
Avocado Cilantro Crema Makes about 1½ cups
1 small clove garlic
2 large, ripe avocados
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
a couple pinches sea salt
a pinch ground cayenne pepper, if desired
1 tsp. pure maple syrup
water to thin, as needed
3 Tbsp. cilantro leaves, minced
1. Place the clove of garlic in the food processor and pulse to mince.
2. Cut avocados in half, remove the pit and scoop the flesh into the food processor. Add the lime juice, salt, cayenne, maple syrup and blend on high until smooth. Add water to thin as needed, and blend. Next add the cilantro leaves and pulse just until combined. Season to taste, adding more salt or lime juice as desired. Store leftovers in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to three days (however, fresh is best).
Nachos with Chickpea Tortilla Chips Serves 4
1 batch Chickpea Tortilla Chips (about 50 chips)
1 batch Avocado Cilantro Crema
1 ½ cups / 225g black beans (about 1 can)
1 Tbsp. cold-pressed olive oil
1 lime, divided
½ ripe avocado
½ small red onion
2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds
sprouts of your choice
crushed chili flakes for garnish
1. Combine the black beans with the olive oil and the juice of half a lime. Stir and season to taste. Mince the red onion.
2. In a dry skillet over medium heat, toast pumpkin seeds stirring often, until they are fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Remove form heat, let cool, and roughly chop or pound in a mortar and pestle (optional).
3. Place about one quarter of the chips on a plate. Top with the black beans, a few dollops of crema, a sprinkling of onion, pumpkin seeds, sprouts and cilantro. Repeat with another three layers of chips and toppings until you have used everything up. Garnish with half an avocado, sliced, a squeeze of half a lime and a sprinkling of crushed chili flakes. Devour immediately, rejoice!
I hope you guys dig this recipe as much as I do. These chips are going to be a new staple in my house! I can’t wait to really start playing with different flavours and add-ins – let me know if you do the same.
xo, Sarah B
Show me your chips on Instagram: #MNRchickpeatortillachips #MNRnachos
It’s pretty clear how I’m handling winter this year: lots of big, bold, spicy food. Chili, saffron, ginger, and paprika are on heavy rotation these days, and I’m surviving cold days with hot meals infused with far-away flavours.
The inspiration for this dish came from harira, a spicy Moroccan and Algerian soup that is traditionally eaten during Ramadan. I made it a lot when I first went vegetarian, about 16 years ago, but after adding several more recipes to my repertoire, kind of forgot about it. In the interest of internally thawing out my bod, I thought I would dust off this old favourite and give it a couple updates.
You’ll often see a lot of harira recipes calling for rice or pasta, but I wanted to go the grain-free route on this one, so I pulled out my trusty spiralizer and make noodles out of sweet potatoes! As much as I love “raw noodles” like spiralized zucchini and beet and carrot, let’s face it: beyond their appearance, they aren’t fooling anyone into believing they are pasta. But something really amazing happens when you cook vegetable noodles just a little bit – they actually become rather tender, yielding, and able to absorb other flavours. Sweet potato noodles are definitely a favourite of mine, especially in cooked dishes like this one. They add great texture, and of course, noodle-free oodles of nutrients (try saying that five times).
You don’t have to soak the lentils for this dish, but it will cook faster it you do, plus the lentils themselves will be far more digestible. And of course you can use canned chickpeas instead of cooking them from dried, but because you won’t be blending them up (into hummus, for instance) I promise it’s worth the effort for not-totally-mushy results. If you’ve never tried cooking your own chickpeas from scratch, maybe now is the time to take the plunge! You’ll never go back, I promise.
1 Tbsp. coconut oil or ghee
2 tsp. ground turmeric
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. caraway seeds
1 tsp. hot smoked paprika
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 pinch saffron (about 40 threads) soaked in 2 Tbsp. hot water
3 medium onions
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
14 oz / 400ml canned whole tomatoes
6oz / 170g tomato paste (1 small can)
1 ½ cup dried chickpeas OR 3 cups / 500g cooked chickpeas (about 2 cans)
1 cup dried lentils, soaked overnight if possible
1 medium sweet potato
3 slices lemon
5 cups water
½ cup / 20g cilantro, leaves and tender stems only, plus more for garnish
½ cup / 20g flat-leaf parsley, leaves and tender stems only, plus more for garnish
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
cold-pressed olive oil and lemon wedges for serving
1. If using dried chickpeas, soak them in pure water overnight with an acidic medium, such as apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. The next morning, drain and rinse. Place in a large stockpot, cover with fresh water, bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes. About 30 minutes into cooking, add about a tablespoon of salt. Drain and rinse.
2. Place saffron threads in a small cup with about 2 tablespoons of recently-boiled water. Let steep for 10-15 minutes.
3. Peel and dice onions. Heat coconut oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the turmeric, ginger, caraway, paprika, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir to blend, and cook for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Lower the heat to medium, add onions and salt, stir to coat. Cook until translucent and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes (add a little water to the pot if it becomes dry). Add the steeped saffron liquid, the canned tomatoes (break up any large pieces), tomato paste, chickpeas, lentils, lemon slices and water. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook covered until the lentils are tender, 15-25 minutes depending on whether or not you soaked them.
4. While the soup is cooking, make the sweet potato noodles. Scrub the sweet potato well under running water if it is organic, and peel it if it is not. Spiralize the potato if you have a spiralizer, or use a julienne peeler to create long, thin noodle-like strips. Wash the herbs well, spin dry and roughly chop, removing any tough stems.
5. Add the sweet potato noodles and herbs to the pot, stir to incorporate and let simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste.
6. Ladle out desired amount of hot soup into bowls. Drizzle each serving generously with olive oil and top with more herbs. Serve with a wedge of lemon, and enjoy.
In other news, I’ve added two new recipes to the My New Roots App! If you’re craving a little more in the way of raw, juicy sunshine, here are two brand-new and exclusive smoothie bowls for your pleasure: the Zippy Zucchini Smoothie Bowl and the Plum Dandy Smoothie Bowl. If you have the app already simply update it, and if you don’t, you can download it here.
And this week I’m in Sri Lanka, all thanks to Cinnamon Hotels for kidnapping me from the icy cold and transporting to me to a tropical paradise full of exotic fruits, cerulean 29° ocean water, and annoyingly perfect palm-tree-sunset-white-sand-beach situations. If you don’t want to be jealous, you should probably avoid my Instagram, okay?