I got home early the other day (after a pre-dawn start to do Canada AM!) and sat on the living room floor, goofing around with Julian and watched Oprah. Luxury! It was her Vegan Challenge episode, did you see it? Michael Pollan and Kathy Freston were on discussing North Americans' over dependence of meat and meat products in and the insane consequences for our health and the environment. They also got a very rare look inside a major US slaughter house. If you've never seen it — and most people haven't — and you eat meat, you really should. Cargill — the slaughter house they showed — is one of the best and they follow the most humane practices and yet it's still hard to watch. (Hang in there, this is going to end with a recipe you'll want. I swear.)
I think I've mentioned before that I grew up on a small farm and was naive for many years about the realities of commercial farming. It's so important to me to know where our meat comes from, what the animals are fed, how they're treated and slaughtered. We eat meat but we pay more to buy better quality meat we can feel good about. But I'm also constantly trying to come up with meatless meals. I hate the idea that it doesn't feel like a meal unless there's meat on the plate, you know? I was glad that I'd already planned a chickpea stew for that night's dinner! This is a meal that Ben makes regularly and I've often thought the kids were more open to it because it's dad's dinner. But lo and behold, they ate my version, too! It's really easy, delicious and tastes even better the next day.
Chickpea and Spinach Stew
2 onions, chopped
2 — 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 3-inch piece of ginger, grated or minced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 or 3 big handfuls of baby spinach, washed and stems trimmed
2 teaspoons tumeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1 28-ounce can tomatoes
1 28-ounc can of chickpeas
1 cup water
pinch of salt
Sautee onions and pinch of salt in oil until they are quite soft — maybe 10 minutes. Don't let them brown. Add garlic and ginger and stir for about a minute or two. Add spices, stir and cook for another minute.
Add chickpeas and tomatoes. Use the back of a spoon to break up the tomatoes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Add the spinach and reduce to a simmer for about 15 minutes.
I love this stew served over brown basmati rice and a little dollop of plain yogurt on top. It's also good with grilled naan bread. I like that, too, but we don't seem to be able to make it without setting off the fire alarm.