Bobby Flay’s Vegetable Chili with Cumin-Lime Yogurt & Avocado-Shishito Relish

Wow. This was the best vegetarian chili I have ever experienced. It was a little bit labor intensive to prepare but the house smelled incredible and the resulting meal was worth the work.

This recipe was adapted from Bobby Flay’s new cookbook, Beat Bobby Flay, via today.com. Even after decreasing and adjusting the chili powders in the recipe, the chili was on the spicy side. It was well tempered with all of the toppings and I also served it over rice to balance the heat. Next time, I may omit one teaspoon of chili powder, noted below.

I loved all of the toppings and garnishes. The cotija cheese was absolutely essential. Healthy and fabulous vegetarian comfort food.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Cumin-Lime Yogurt: (Makes 1 cup)

  • 1 cup 2% Greek yogurt
  • 1 lime, finely zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the Avocado-Shishito Relish: (Makes about 2 cups)

  • 2 Hass avocados, cut into large dice
  • 2 T finely diced red onion
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 2 T chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon canola oil
  • 4 shishito peppers

For the Vegetable Chili:

  • 8 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 large Spanish onion, finely diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, mashed to a paste with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tsp ancho chile powder
  • 1 tsp guajillo chile powder (I ground a guajillo chile in a spice grinder)
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder, optional (next time I would omit it)
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle dark beer (I used a Fat Tire amber)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can peeled whole plum tomatoes, undrained (I used San Marzano)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 T finely chopped fresh oregano leaves
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms (about 11 oz), stems discarded, caps cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 6 cups 1/2-inch-diced peeled eggplant (1 large or 2 medium, about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 scallions, green tops and pale-green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon clover honey

To Serve:

  • Cumin-Lime Yogurt (recipe above)
  • Avocado-Shishito Relish (recipe above)
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated or crumbled queso blanco
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Cotija cheese
  • fried tortillas strips or crumbled tortilla chips, for garnish (optional)
  • cornbread or cornbread muffins, for serving, optional

To Make the Cumin-Lime Yogurt:

  1. Whisk together the yogurt, lime zest, lime juice, and cumin in a small bowl.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours before serving.

To Make the Avocado-Shishito Relish:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the avocado, onion, lime juice, and cilantro in a large bowl.
  2. Using a fork, coarsely mash the ingredients together.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron or nonstick skillet over high heat until shimmering.
  5. Add the shishitos, season with salt and pepper, and cook until charred on both sides, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board, let cool for a few minutes, then finely dice.
  6. Gently fold in the diced shishitos into the avocado mixture to combine.

Note: The relish can be made up to 4 hours in advance, tightly covered and refrigerated.

To Make the Vegetable Chili:

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.
  4. Add all of the chile powders, the coriander, and cumin. Cook, stirring constantly, until the spices are fragrant and deepen in color, about 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for 1 minute.
  6. Add the beer and cook over medium heat until the mixture is reduced by about half, about 5 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes and their juices and cook until the tomatoes begin to soften and break down, about 10 minutes. Using a potato masher or wooden spoon, coarsely mash the tomatoes.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the oregano. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken, about 20 minutes.
  9. While the sauce is cooking, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large cast-iron skillet over high heat.
  10. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring a few times, until golden brown and their liquid has evaporated, about 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a large bowl.
  11. Return the skillet to the heat and add the remaining 3 tablespoons oil.
  12. Working in batches, add the eggplant in a single layer, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring a few times, until golden brown and soft, about 5 minutes per batch. Add more oil, if necessary. (I cooked the eggplant in 3 batches.) Transfer the eggplant to the bowl of mushrooms.
  13. Add the eggplant, mushrooms, and black beans to the tomato sauce and stir to combine.
  14. Cook for 15 minutes to meld the flavors and thicken the mixture.
  15. Stir in the cilantro and scallions and season with the honey, salt and pepper.

To Serve:

  1. Ladle the chili into bowls, top with a dollop of the cumin-lime yogurt and avocado-shishito relish.
  2. At the table, pass the queso blanco and Cotija cheeses, as well as some tortilla chips, if desired, to sprinkle over the top of the chili.
  3. Offer cornbread or cornbread muffins on the side, if desired.

Eggplant, Tomato, & Chickpea Tagine

Lucky me! My friend gave be several beautiful eggplants from her garden. This flavorful North African vegetarian stew was a perfect way to use them. I served it over whole wheat couscous as well as with warm flatbread to soak up all of the delicious sauce.

The recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I modified the recipe to prepare it in my stove top pressure cooker. I also increased the amount of garlic, substituted my CSA beefsteak tomatoes for half of the grape tomatoes, and omitted the harissa. We ate it with steamed CSA broccolini on the side. It was healthy and hearty vegetarian feast.

Yield: Serves 6

  • 4 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 medium to large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups (1 pint) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 large beefsteak tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (or substitute an additional 2 cups (1 pint) grape or cherry tomatoes)
  • 4 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 tsp Kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 2 pounds eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 of a lemon, plus lemon wedges to serve, if desired
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
  • harissa, for serving, optional (as a topping for a little spice)
  • whole wheat couscous, for serving (I cooked 1 cup of couscous per the package directions)
  • warm flatbread, for serving, optional (I served it with naan)
  1. In a stove top pressure cooker (or a 6-quart Instant Pot), sauté the oil and garlic over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. 
  2. Add the onion, tomatoes, ginger, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes begin to release some of their juices, 2 to 4 minutes.
  3. Stir in 1/4 cup water, scraping up any browned bits. Gently stir in the eggplant, then distribute in an even layer.
  4. Lock the lid of the pressure cooker (or Instant Pot) in place. Over medium heat, bring to low pressure (first line on a stove top pressure cooker). Cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, cook the couscous. Set aside.
  6. When pressure cooking is complete, quick-release the steam by moving the pressure valve to vent. Carefully open the pot.
  7. Gently stir in the chickpeas and lemon juice, then taste and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Stir in the cilantro.
  9. Serve over couscous garnished with additional cilantro, drizzled with additional oil (I omitted it) and with warm flatbread and lemon wedges on the side, as desired.

Ethiopian Chickpea Stew (Shiro Wat) & Stewed Collard Greens (Gomen Wat)

My sister introduced me to Ethiopian food many moons ago. Ever since, we have really enjoyed eating at Ethiopian restaurants but I have never prepared any dishes at home. After receiving collard greens and parsley in my CSA share, this seemed like a fitting menu to try. It could be served any time of year. For us, it was a perfect meal to serve on a rainy and cool June evening.

I loved the brightness that the grated ginger, lemon, and chopped fresh chile added to the tender, stewed collard greens after cooking. The chickpea stew recipe utilizes the genius technique of incorporating ground red lentils to thicken the base.

The recipes were adapted from 177milkstreet.com. I changed the proportions and decreased the heat intensity. I served it over rice with dollops of whole milk Greek yogurt to offset the spice. I also omitted the fresh chile garnish in the chickpea stew. In a restaurant, these dishes would be served with injera, Ethiopian flatbread.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Stewed Collard Greens (Gomen Wat):

  • 1 1/2 T ghee
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 T minced fresh ginger, divided
  • scant 1/2 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 pound stemmed collard greens, cut into 1/2-inch ribbons and roughly chopped
  • 3/4 to 1 cup chicken, vegetable or beef stock, divided
  • 1/2 to 1 Fresno or serrano chile, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the Berbere Spice Blend: (you will have a little extra)

  • 1 T smoked sweet paprika
  • 1 1 /2 tsp sweet paprika
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • scant 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • heaping 1/4 tsp freshly ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil, ground or crushed into a powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground cumin

For the Chickpea Stew (Shiro Wat):

  • 2 T red lentils
  • 3 T ghee
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups (1 pint) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 8 to 10 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T minced or grated fresh ginger
  • 2 T Berbere Spice Blend (above)
  • 2 15.5-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño or Fresno chile, stemmed and chopped, optional (I omitted it)
  • cooked rice, for serving, optional (I served both dishes over white Basmati rice)
  • whole milk Greek yogurt, for serving, optional
  • injera (flatbread), for serving, optional

To Make the Stewed Collard Greens:

  1. In a large pot over medium, melt the ghee. (I used an enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. 
  3. Stir in the garlic, 1 tablespoon of grated ginger, the cardamom and turmeric. Cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
  4. Add about half of the collards and cook, stirring, until slightly wilted, then add the remaining collards.
  5. Stir the stock and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the collards are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. (I cooked it for 30 minutes.)
  6. Off heat, stir in the chopped chile, lemon juice and remaining 1/2 tablespoon ginger.
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then transfer to a serving dish.

To Make the Spice Blend:

  1. In a small bowl or jar, stir or shake together all ingredients until combined. The berbere will keep in an airtight container in a cool, dry spot for up to 2 months. (I used a recycled glass spice jar.)

To Make the Chickpea Stew:

  1. In a spice grinder, pulse the lentils until finely ground, about 10 pulses; set aside.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium, melt the ghee. (I used a low and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
  3. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, ginger and berbere. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have given up their liquid and the mixture is beginning to brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Add the chickpeas, ground lentils, 2 cups water and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Boil over medium-high, then reduce to medium and cook at a simmer, uncovered and stirring often, until the sauce clings to the chickpeas and the desired thickness and consistency is achieved, about 15 to 20 minutes. (If serving over rice, cook the rice at this time.)
  6. Off heat, stir in the parsley and chili (if using).
  7. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve the stewed collard greens and chickpea stew with injera or over rice topped with a dollop of yogurt, as desired.

Venetian Rice & Peas (Risi e Bisi)

In Venice, this classic dish is traditionally served on April 25th, St. Mark’s Day. This version was adapted from Michela Tasca, owner of Ca’ de Memi Farm and Bed and Breakfast in Piombino Dese, outside of Venice, Italy, via 177MilkStreet.com, contributed by Diane Unger.

The recipe is similar to risotto in its cooking method and because it incorporates arborio rice, but this dish is much more fluid and soupy. It is definitely for pea lovers! Whole peas and puréed peas are mixed into the creamy rice. I loved the vibrant, beautiful color of the finished dish.

Yield: Serves 4

  • 1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 large white onion, half thinly sliced and half finely chopped
  • 1 medium celery stalk, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • 1 quart chicken stock or broth
  • 2 cups frozen peas, divided (1 cup frozen, 1 cup thawed & at room temperature)
  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 4 ounces pancetta, cubed or finely chopped (I used uncured pancetta)
  • 4 T salted butter, cut into 1 tablespoon pieces, divided
  • 1 cup arborio or vialone nano rice
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 ounces (1 cup) finely grated Parmesan cheese, plus more to serve (I used Parmigiano-Reggiano)
  1. In a medium pot, combine the carrot, sliced onion (reserve the chopped onion), celery, fennel seeds, stock (or broth), and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil over medium-high, then cover, reduce to medium-low and simmer until the vegetables have softened, 10 to 12 minutes.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the solids to a blender, draining as much of the liquid as possible. (It’s okay if some of the fennel seeds remain in the pot.) (I used a Vitamix.)
  3. Add 1 cup of the stock to the blender along with the parsley and the still-frozen peas. (The frozen peas cool the mixture so that it remains a brilliant green.) Leave the remaining stock in the pot, covered, so that it remains warm. (I kept the pot over low heat.)
  4. Blend the solids, parsley, frozen peas, and cup of stock until the mixture is completely smooth, 1 to 2 minutes; set aside. (You should have about 3 cups of purée.)
  5. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the reserved chopped onion, pancetta, and 2 tablespoons of butter. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion and pancetta are lightly browned and the pancetta fat is rendered, 6 to 8 minutes. (I used a low, wide, enameled cast iron pot.)
  6. Add the rice and stir until the grains are coated with fat, about 1 minute.
  7. Stir in 1 cup of warm stock. Cook, stirring, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  8. Ladle in additional stock to barely cover the rice, about 1 cup at a time, and simmer, stirring often, until the liquid is mostly absorbed, about 5 minutes per addition.
  9. Repeat the addition of stock, about 4 or 5 times, until the rice is al dente and most of the liquid has been absorbed. This process should take 25 to 30 minutes.
  10. Remove the pan from the heat and let stand uncovered for 5 minutes.
  11. Add the thawed, room temperature peas and the reserved purée; stir into heated through, about 1 minute.
  12. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of butter; stir until melted.
  13. Stir in the Parmesan. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  14. Serve sprinkled with additional grated Parmesan, as desired.

Creamy Tadka Dal with Roti

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I loved the combination of textures and colors from the mix of beans in this creamy dal. The recipe was a “staff favorite” in Food and Wine, contributed by Antara Sinha. It was included an article titled “Good to the Last Sop: Cozy Dinners That Deliver Endless Comfort.” The original recipe includes instructions to make homemade roti to serve with the dal to sop it up. 🙂

We ate this dish with store-bought roti but I included the roti recipe from the original article below. I wish I had made the homemade roti because we tragically did not enjoy the store-bought version. (Homemade is always better!) I served the dal over brown Basmati rice with steamed spinach on the side. Hearty and delicious vegetarian comfort food.

For the Dal:

  • 3/4 cup dried moong dal (split yellow mung beans) (about 5½ ounces) 
  • 3/4 cup dried masoor dal (split red lentils) (about 5 ounces) 
  • 3/4 cup dried chana dal (split bengal gram) or dried toor dal (split pigeon peas) (about 5¾ ounces) 
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground turmeric 
  • 6 to 7 cups water, divided 
  • 1 ½ tablespoons canola oil 
  • 4 green cardamom pods, crushed, shells discarded 
  • 4 whole cloves 
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons cumin seeds  
  • 1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped (about 2 cups)  
  • 2 medium-size fresh serrano or jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded if desired, and finely chopped (about 2 1/2 tablespoons) 
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped (about 1 cup) 
  • ¼ cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish 

For the Roti:

  • 2 cups atta (Indian whole-wheat flour) (about 8 5/8 ounces), plus more for dusting 
  • 3/4 to 1 cup water, divided 
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • melted ghee, for brushing 

For the Tadka:

  • 3 tablespoons ghee 
  • 3 small dried chiles (such as Diaspora Co. Whole Sannam Chillies), or more to taste (I used Bird’s Eye)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

To Serve:

  • brown Basmati rice, optional
  • steamed spinach, optional

To Start the Dal:

  1. Stir together moong dal, masoor dal, chana (or toor) dal, salt, turmeric, and 6 cups water in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over medium-high. (I used a medium enameled cast iron Dutch oven.)
  2. Reduce heat to medium-low; partially cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until dal is soft and tender, 35 to 40 minutes. Add up to remaining 1 cup water, 1/4 cup at a time, until desired thickness and consistency is reached.

To Make the Roti Dough:

  1. Stir together atta, 3/4 cup water, and salt in a medium bowl. Knead mixture in bowl until all dry flour is incorporated, adding remaining 1/4 cup water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if needed to incorporate flour.
  2. Transfer dough to a clean work surface; knead until stretchy and slightly sticky, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Shape dough into a ball, and return to bowl. Cover with a clean towel; let stand at room temperature until dough is smooth and matte, about 30 minutes.

To Season the Dal:

  1. Heat oil in a medium-size heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium.
  2. Add cardamom, cloves, and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.
  3. Add onion and chopped fresh chiles; cook, stirring often, until onion is lightly browned around edges, 5 to 8 minutes.
  4. Add tomato; cook, stirring often, until tomato begins to break down, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat.
  5. Add tomato mixture and cilantro to dal mixture; stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.
  6. Cover and keep warm over low.

To Cook the Roti:

  1. Once roti dough has rested, turn out onto a work surface lightly dusted with atta.
  2. Divide dough evenly into 16 pieces (about 1 ounce each).
  3. Working with 1 dough piece at a time and keeping remaining pieces covered with a towel, shape dough into a ball. Dust ball thoroughly with atta, and flatten slightly. Using a rolling pin, roll dough into a circle until uniformly thin and about 6 inches in diameter. Rotate the disk 90 degrees after each roll, flipping and dusting with atta occasionally to make a perfect circle. Repeat with remaining dough pieces.
  4. Heat a large cast-iron skillet over high. Place 1 roti round in skillet; cook until bubbles start to form and bottom is speckled with brown spots, 30 to 45 seconds. Flip roti using tongs; cook until it puffs up completely and is evenly cooked on both sides, 30 to 45 seconds. (Small charred spots are delicious and totally OK.) If roti doesn’t completely puff up, pat the top using a clean towel to encourage it to inflate.
  5. Remove roti from skillet, and brush both sides lightly with melted ghee; transfer to a serving plate. Repeat process with remaining roti rounds and ghee.

To Make the Tadka & to Serve:

  1. In a small skillet, heat ghee over medium-high. Add dried chiles and cumin to pan; cook, stirring occasionally, until cumin is toasted and fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  2. Divide dal mixture among bowls, and drizzle each portion with desired amount of warm tadka. (I served it over brown Basmati rice.)
  3. Sprinkle with additional cilantro, and serve alongside hot roti and steamed spinach, as desired.

Note: Dal can be prepared (without the tadka) 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container in refrigerator.

Tunisian Chickpea Soup (Lablabi)

I am a big fan of toppings, so this creamy, earthy, and hearty vegetarian soup caught my eye. It is served over toasted chunks of bread and then garnished with crunchy, spiced chickpeas, lemon zest, parsley, a sprinkle of cumin, and a drizzle of olive oil. I also loved that the soup incorporated a little spice from harissa.

This recipe was adapted from Cool Beans by Joe Yonan, via The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I used a stove top pressure cooker to cook the beans which significantly expedited the cooking process. I also served the soup over toasted sourdough boule chunks in lieu of rustic bread. Great.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

For the Crispy Chickpeas:

  • 1 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas, or 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon za’atar, plus more to taste

For the Soup:

  • 1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and drained
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 loaf hearty rustic bread (about 6 to 8 ounces)(I used 1/2 of a sourdough boule)
  • 1 cup chopped onion, from 1 medium onion
  • 6 to 8 large garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon harissa paste, plus more for serving
  • freshly squeezed lemon juice from 1 large lemon (about 3 T)
  • finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (about 1 T), for serving
  • 1/2 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, for serving

To Prepare the Crispy Chickpeas:

  1. Transfer the rinsed and drained canned chickpeas to a rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean dish towel or paper towels.
  2. Cover with another towel (or paper towels) on top, rubbing gently to dry.
  3. Remove top towel and let air-dry for at least 30 minutes and preferably 1 hour. (I let them dry for 2+ hours.)

To Prepare the Soup:

  1. In a pressure cooker (I used a stove-top pressure cooker), combine soaked chickpeas, 5 cups water, 1 tablespoon olive oil, bay leaves and 1/2 teaspoon salt over high heat. (Alternatively, use a Dutch oven or heavy stockpot.)
  2. Place the pot over high heat, until the pressure cooker reaches the second ring (high). Adjust the heat to maintain the pressure for 35 minutes. (If using a stockpot, bring to a boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until chickpeas are tender, about 1 to 2 hours.)
  3. Remove from the heat and let the pressure release naturally.
  4. Heat oven to 400 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  5. While chickpeas are cooking, cut bread into thick slices, then tear or cut slices into bite-size pieces.
  6. Place bread in one layer on large rimmed baking sheet and toast until crisp and light brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool on pan and set aside.
  7. Finish the crunchy chickpeas: Raise oven temperature to 425 degrees. (I set my oven to convection roast.)
  8. Remove the towels from baking sheet with the chickpeas, and toss the chickpeas with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and za’atar until well coated.
  9. Roast until golden and crispy, about 13 to 18 minutes, tossing halfway through. When chickpeas are still hot, sprinkle lightly with more salt. Taste and add more salt or za’atar, or both, as desired.
  10. When the chickpeas for the soup are tender, discard bay leaves.
  11. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 2 cups of chickpeas, 1/2 cup of chickpea cooking liquid and 1/4 cup olive oil to a blender or food processor, and purée until smooth. (I used a Vitamix.)
  12. In a large skillet over medium-high, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering.
  13. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  14. Add garlic and cook until golden, about 2 minutes.
  15. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon cumin and tomato paste and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add a splash of the chickpea cooking liquid to the pan, and bring to a simmer to deglaze, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat.
  16. Add chickpea purée and onion mixture to soup, along with harissa and lemon juice, and stir well. Add a little water if soup seems too thick, and more salt, if needed.
  17. To serve, divide toasted bread pieces among soup bowls, then ladle in soup.
  18. Garnish with lemon zest, parsley, olive oil, more cumin and some of the crispy chickpeas — you’ll have leftovers. Serve hot, with more harissa on the side, as desired.

Shrimp Creole

I served this tasty dish for our Mardi Gras dinner followed by our essential celebratory King Cake for dessert. It was festive and delicious.

I admittedly used Cajun seasoning instead of Creole Seasoning- gasp! After making the dish, I read about the similarities and differences between the Cajun and Creole cuisines. Both cuisines use a roux, the “holy trinity” composed of onions, bell peppers, and celery sautéed in oil, and both are from Southern Louisiana. Cajun food incorporates more smoked meats and rice, such as jambalaya, and is from more rural parts of the region whereas Creole cuisine, such as étouffée, is from New Orleans. I included the recipe for the homemade Creole seasoning below. (for next time!)

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Vallery Lomas. I modified the cooking times and doubled the garlic. I also used store-bought seasoning and omitted the dried basil. The shrimp was cooked perfectly.

Yield: Serves 4

For the Creole Seasoning: (Optional)

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or less, if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For the Shrimp:

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used large tail-on shrimp)
  • 2 teaspoons homemade or store-bought Creole seasoning, divided (I used Slap ya Mama)
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter (1/2 stick / 4 T)
  • 1/3 cup (5 T) all-purpose flour
  • 1 medium or large yellow onion, finely chopped (I used a food processor)
  • 2 celery ribs, thinly sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 4 to 8 garlic cloves, minced (I used a food processor)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce (no salt added)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce, to taste (optional) (I used Frank’s Red Hot)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1/2 T fresh thyme)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (or 1/2 T fresh oregano)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil (or 1/2 T fresh basil)
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves and tender stems
  • steamed rice, for serving (I used white Basmati rice)
  1. Make the optional Creole seasoning: Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and stir together. The seasoning makes about 1/4 cup; store it in a closed container in a cool, dry place. (Only 2 teaspoons are used in this dish.)
  2. Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Then toss the raw shrimp with 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning and set aside.
  3. In a Dutch oven or large, heavy skillet with a lid, melt the butter over medium-low heat. (I used a low and wide enameled cast iron pot.)
  4. Sprinkle the flour on top and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until a roux the color of peanut butter forms, about 5 to 10 minutes. Watch carefully- if the roux burns it cannot be saved.
  5. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper, increase the heat to medium and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 8 minutes.
  6. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
  7. Stir in 1/3 cup water, then the tomato sauce, hot sauce (if using), sugar, thyme, oregano, basil (if using), bay leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and the remaining 1 teaspoon Creole seasoning. Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low.
  8. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes until thickened, stirring occasionally to make sure that the bottom doesn’t burn. (If needed, add more water.)
  9. Once the stew has thickened, add the seasoned shrimp and simmer until opaque and cooked through, about 5 minutes, turning each piece halfway through the cooking time. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  10. Remove from the heat and let stand for 10 minutes, uncovered.
  11. Serve over steamed rice sprinkled with sliced scallions and chopped parsley.

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