Monday, February 18, 2008

Dinner For Detoxer

I invited a friend over to my place for dinner and a civilized game of scrabble. The friend is in the middle of a bi annual detox she does and so I didn't want to be the one to muck it up for her. She couldn't do any foods that are known to cause major allergies and no meat either. Oye, that sure that doesn't seem to leave a lot of room for amazing cuisine (I'm not a cutting edge Raw Chef here!), but I liked the idea of having this dinner as a challenge. Something yummy but within the confines of her diet for the month.

There was a little back and forth with her about various ingredients. "olive oil?" "fine, infact recommended" "chickpeas?" "hmm, I think chickpeas fine but even if they're not, I'm saying to hell with it"... And so on and so forth.

I looked thru my old recipe files thinking I was going to do something lentil based, but when I came upon this recipe and reviewed the ingredients, decided to make it. This recipe came to me byway of Bon Appetit - Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew and it seemed perfect. Right out of college, this dish was a mainstay dinner for me. It was hearty, easy to make and dirt cheap too! I've never made the polenta triangles that are suppose to accompany this meal but perhaps one day.

A few thoughts on this recipe: It's a fairly sweet recipe and I swear that I end up having to add a lot more liquid than just 2 cups OJ. I only had OJ on hand and so I added quite a bit more. In the future I think perhaps the addition of some chicken broth (veggie broth for your friends who might be detoxing) or some diced canned tomatoes might keep the stew from drying out and keep it was being too sweet.

I used regular old jalapeƱo pepper. I only used 1 and it wasn't very hot. Next time I'm going to add 2. This dish really can take the heat!

Definitely offer sour cream on the side for this stew. Again it helps to cut the sweetness and makes this fairly simple dish seem a bit more luxurious. Unfortunately dairy wasn't on the good list for my friend's diet.

But I did garnish with avocado and orange, yum! The chopping board with stuff waiting to be added:

And I think this dish would benefit from the addition of a little cilantro. I love cumin and so I add equal parts chili powder and cumin and I really enjoy the flavor from the extra spice. The picture at the very top of this posting is the stew bubbling away. It doesn't look all that great but trust me, it's really a super recipe. I think it's great for people who want to try their hand cooking at home b/c it's a recipe that can easily be tweaked according to one's preferences. Plus it's vegan and vegetarian.

I was going to just make a simple green salad to accompany this dish but I stumbled upon this recipe by way of Orangette. Another food blogger (my apologies I can't remember which one it was, I read so many of them! Oye!) had just posted about it and I remembered originally seeing this recipe and knew I had to try it. Orangette, besides being very well written, has some great recipes on her site! There is another chickpea recipe that I've long been tempted to make. Perhaps even made this week! Okay, so at my ghetto shaws, they don't have tahini. I asked my friend coming for dinner if she would be so kind as to bring some with her. No problem she said.

But upon arrival she was tahini-less!!! Scandal and horror!!! What were we to do? Well, since she's something of a cook herself she asked if I had sesame oil (I did...did you know that stuff keeps almost forever in the fridge?). And she set up to make a substitute tahini by mashing the chickpea into the sesame oil. Here she is with the food challenge secret ingredient of the night:

I nuked the butternut squash (I had chopped and chopped and chopped, did I mention I chopped it a long time) for a bit to warm it and we added her concoction, all spice, lemon, onion and cilantro. And this is what it looked like when we were done:

And the taste? Awesome! It's a great easy salad and has great sweet, sour and savory going on all at once. I don't know why but lemon juice really is BFF with chickpeas. It brings out their sweetness and overall nutty flavor. Lemon juice really elevates chickpeas to another level. And isn't that what BFF was suppose to do? Love and support? Yeah, something like that.

So it was a great filling and winter time dinner (very very fiber rich, very good for you - I found myself wanting a side of bacon at the end of it) and a good game. I got my ass handed to me, but it was a lot of fun, and at the end, we decided to award points for words we made up if we could come up with somewhat believable definitions. I mean, notiff really should be a word, people come on!!

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