Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Guest Post: New Year's Spiced Chickpeas with Avocado

Jaime Green writes our bi-weekly Green Kitchen post. She's guesting for Wednesday. Happy holidays!

Last New Year's Eve, my boyfriend and I had been dating for about two months. Not big fans of subway rides home in the wee hours alongside the inevitable puking revelers (though I guess that's better than facing drunk drivers on the roads), we decided to stay in.

I showed up at his apartment that night with two bottles of very cheap champagne (I love you, Andre) and a sparkly paper top-hat. I blew a noisemaker when he opened the door. I'd gotten the hat and noisemaker at the dollar store on my block about an hour before.

We didn't have any big plans – drink cheap champagne, pause whatever movie (okay, old episodes of Star Trek: the Next Generation) to watch the ball drop – but we also didn't have any dinner plans at all.

He lived at the edge of a predominantly Mexican neighborhood in Brooklyn, with none of the trendy bistros and bars we associate with that hip little (big) borough. I was ready to cook for us, but it was already 9pm and the supermarket ten blocks away was already closed. And it's not like this bachelor apartment was so well-stocked with provisions.

There was a lot of this:

Me: I'll cook something. What do you want?
Him: I don't know.

Eventually we got to “chickpeas.” I never thought of myself as a big fan of chickpeas (unless they're mushed to death in hummus), but between that secret ingredient – hello, Iron Chef: Sunset Park – and my sense of what we might be able to round up from some nearby bodegas, a plan started to form.

I knew plenty of Harlem bodegas that stocked some fresh produce, and although things were a little more sparse, we managed quite well, and ended up with, if I do say so myself, one of the tastiest things I'd ever made.

I suppose this is one of the reasons I prefer cooking to baking, aside from wanting to surround myself with tasty vegetables rather than cookies. You can't improvise baking. Measurements and proportions are vital when you're trying to go from flour to cake. But cooking doesn't require a recipe. You can go with an idea and your knowledge of what works, and when you surprise yourself with the outcome it's not necessarily a bad thing. That sort of ingenuity and self-sufficiency is exciting and, dare I say it, empowering.

I'm not saying these chickpeas are why my boyfriend and I are still together, but they certainly haven't hurt.

(A note on nutrition here: This recipe is higher in fat than most “healthy” recipes you see around. But I would make a case for fat, as would a lot of scientific research. The low-fat, high-carbohydrate diets of the 80s and 90s did no one any favors. Fat is important for many aspects of health, from mood regulation and vitamin absorption to nice skin and feeling full after you eat. Fat is only a problem in that it is very calorie-dense, but that's more dangerous in processed foods with a higher fat content than you realize. For me, at least, a higher-fat diet really eases my junk and sugar cravings. There's some more good reading about fat here: Confessions of a Former Lipidphobe. Although this recipe gets about half of its calories from fat, it is relatively low in carbohydrates, and none of those are processed, and it's got a good dose of protein and fiber as well. The fats are good ones, and most importantly, this dish is delicious and keeps you full for hours.)

Spiced Chickpeas with Avocado
Serves 3


4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 large red onion, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 avocado, diced
A couple handfuls of cilantro, chopped (about ¾ cup chopped)
Juice of one lime
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
Black pepper, to taste

1) Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large sautee pan over medium heat. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir and cook slowly for 20-25 minutes, until onions are just about done to your liking. (You can go slowly and caramelize them, or turn up the heat and go faster for crispier onions, however you like.)

2) When the onions are just about done, stir in chickpeas. Add cumin, paprika, a few grinds of black pepper. (Add the spices gradually, and taste as you go.) Add 1-2 teaspoons more oil as needed – you don't want this dry – and more salt, to taste. Cook until chickpeas are soft and creamy, 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed.

3) Turn off heat and stir in avocado, cilantro, and lime juice.

4) Serve as-is, or over rice or in tortillas. Crumbled queso blanco makes a lovely addition.

Approximate calories, fat, fiber, protein, and cost per serving
313 calories, 33.6g fat, 9.6g fiber, 21.5g protein, $0.92

Calculations
4 t olive oil: 168 calories, 18.7g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.16
1 large red onion: 96 calories, 0.2g fat, 4.1 g fiber, 2.6g protein, $0.30
1 can chickpeas: 428 calories, 4.1g fat, 15.8g fiber, 17.8g protein, $0.89
1 avocado: 227 calories, 21g fat, 9.2g fiber, 2.7g protein, $0.89
½ cup chopped cilantro: 1 calorie, 0g fat, 0.1g fiber, 0.1g protein, $0.25
juice of one lime: 8 calories, 8g fat, 0.1g fiber, 0.1g protein, $0.20
½ t salt: 0 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.01
¾ t cumin: 7 calories 0.3g fat, 0.5g fiber, 0.3g protein, $0.02
½ t paprika: 3 calories, 0.1g fat, 0.4g fiber, 0.2g protein, $0.02
¼ t black pepper: 2 calories, 0g fat, 0.1g fiber, 0.1g protein, $0.01
TOTALS: 939 calories, 100.8g fat, 28.8g fiber, 64.6g protein, $2.75
PER SERVING (TOTALS/3): 313 calories, 33.6g fat, 9.6g fiber, 21.5g protein, $0.92

Stumble Upon Toolbar

13 comments:

Annie said...

This looks absolutely delicious. Definitely going on my "to cook" list.

shil said...

This looks delicious and I'm all over the higher-fat, lower-refined-carb thing. However, there's a mistake in the protein count somewhere - it adds up to 20something, not 60something grams.

Elizabeth said...

This sounds delicious. I love cooking chickpeas until they get soft like this, but I hadn't thought to try it with a Latin flavor profile.

Also, you might want to check those numbers again for the nutritional value. I added up the fat that you had listed, and it came out to 52.4, which is a big difference. Plus, lime juice doesn't have any fat, so the real number is probably closer to 44.4. Fiber came out to 30.3 as well.

Kat said...

This sounds fabulous! I love avocado and chickpeas. Bookmarked!

Hookturns said...

I cooked it tonight, and it was delicious.

Kate said...

This looks fabulous! Is it okay to link to this post from my blog? (http://knivesfireandfun.blogspot.com)

Farmgirl Susan said...

This looks SO good. What a fabulous combination of ingredients. I buy organic chickpeas by the case and am always looking for new ways to enjoy them. I'm tempted to make a special trip to the grocery store (35 miles away) just so I can pick up an avocado and make this today. Thanks for the delicious inspiration - and happy new year! :)

Claudia said...

I copied the recipe into Living Software, a cookbook app that calculates the nutritional breakdown, and these are the results per serving:

341 calories
16.79g total fat
11.38g fibre
9g protein

So, the fat content isn't too outrageous though 42% of the total calories come from fat and that's a bit on the high side.

Thanks for sharing the recipe -- it looks really tasty and I can't wait to try it!

Angie said...

Enjoyed this very much, but then I'm a sucker for anything this avocado-y. ;) Very easy and so tasty. And the leftovers tasted even better the next day.

Anonymous said...

Where do you get $.89 avocados in NYC that aren't rotten? Also, avocado is excellent for your boyfriend's prostate as it helps prevent cancer and enlargement.

amanda said...

we made it this weekend. it was FANTASTIC. kept us satiated for hours, super easy to make. we topped with feta. will absolutely make again and again.

laura said...

this was delicious! i only used 1/2 a lime but i love the flavor combinations! thanks!

ajlst21 said...

Fantastic!

I substituted the second go-round of EVOO for whole fat butter and vavoom!

I used Smokey Hungarian Paprika, not Hot.