And just like that, summer came and went, and we jumped into back-to-school mode. Michael and Ely were excited to go to their ‘big’ middle school. My teenage sophomore was somewhat excited but now especially thrilled joining the yearbook committee and being elected president of the tech club (he’s a pretty tech savvy dude and definitely didn’t get that from his mother). We eased into the routine nicely until Michael’s school nurse called to tell me he has rashes all over his body… exactly at the point I was about to add the flour blend to my pumpkin spice muffin batter (so good and coming to the blog SOON) as one does when one is itching for pumpkin spice. Panic!
The first thing I thought oh no pistachios! because he is severely allergic but he was nowhere near pistachios. Our dermatologist confirmed it was poison oak. POISON OAK. ALL OVER HIS BODY!! It later dawned on me that we did go on a beautiful hike the other day, with a whole bunch of pretty bright-colored bushes. Sigh. I guess it was inevitable that the pretty mountainous suburbs we live in would get to him, being the little botanist he is, plucking every plant with a studious eye.
As you can imagine, it was a rough few days for the poor guy with constant itching. Little did I know that if you itch one area, then itch another, it can spread the rash — lessons learned for this poison oak newbie. Since topical creams and the (dye-free) Benadryl didn’t do a thing for the swelling or itching, we went the steroid route realizing it was systemic. Yikes.
A full four days it has been. Thankfully we are back in the swing of things, happy and itch free. I felt so bad about all the discomfort he was in; when his exhausted body took a nap I got to the muffins, which couldn’t have come at a better time (he LOVES anything pumpkin spice, and definitely got that from his mother). If you could see that smile on his face as he dug his face into the muffin – it was priceless.
Okay! Now that I have completely gone off the beaten path talking about rashes and pumpkin spice muffins (ugh, not a good combo!) I need to tell you about this warmed chickpea cauliflower mango salad from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More Cookbook. Simply put, it is delicious.
The cookbook focuses solely on vegetables, while his other cookbooks expand to meats and fishes, also with Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flair and full of delish looking recipes to try. But as much as I love a bowl of vegetables, it’s not the kind of meal that excites us, frankly — the rest of the family (as in, five guys) would rather see a stack of pancakes (frequently requested for dinner)… or schnitzel with crispy onion rings… oh, or of course, mac and cheese or other favorite pasta on most days even though they affectionately will try new recipes for my sake. Chickpeas and cauliflower? Not so much… not as a meal… that is until they tasted this.
Leave it to Ottolenghi to make simple vegetables excitingly new to the senses. Remember the sweet potato recipe with tahini and za’atar? This recipe is nothing short of that. A vibrant bowl of warm spices tossed into chickpeas, cauliflower, and mango that we clutched onto. We love it with arugula slightly wilted from the heated dish, but feel free to use any greens (wilted or not) and make it your own. Also, canned great northern beans would be a good substitute for chickpeas. Not a fan of mango? Try fresh pineapple, fig, or even pomegranate – all likely to be delicious.
There is nothing fussy or difficult in technique needed for this one pan meal and it’s quite versatile too (he suggests dried chickpeas to soak overnight, I went for canned with great results). Perfect for those days when you want something meat-free, yet substantial, and filling enough to satisfy an omnivorous family like mine. And though we don’t plan on becoming vegan for many nutritional reasons, this is a meal we all agreed is one for the books or rather blog!
- 2 15-oz cans chickpea (garbanzo), drained
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon sea kelp granules
- 3 teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon raw (turbinado) sugar
- 2 tablespoons ponzu or rice wine vinegar
- 5 tablespoons avocado oil, or other high-heat oil
- 1 large onion, thinly sliced into half circles
- 1 medium cauliflower, separated into small florets and stems cut into pieces
- 2 medium mangoes, peeled,
cut ofthe pit, and diced
- ½ bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 5-6 handfuls of fresh arugula
- Note: This comes together quickly so it would be best to have all your ingredients on hand before beginning.
- I used canned chickpeas that I drained well and then heated in a dry sauce pan for five minutes to allow the water to evaporate, mimicking soak Chickpea texture
- Give the onions about 10 minutes stirring occasionally to soften and lightly brown
- Sprinkle in a tablespoon of sugar then add the spices and turn down the heat to medium. Add cauliflower then toss to coat then add chickpeas.add a little more oil if needed.
- I added 2 teaspoons cinnamon and a splash of ponzu for acidity
- Turn off heat Add fresh arugula and toss to wilt. Add mango and chopped cilantro.
- Combine all the spices and sugar, set aside.
- Set a large sauté pan over medium-high heat then add drained chickpeas to evaporate most of the liquid, about 3 minutes. Remove chickpeas and carefully wipe pan clean then add oil and sliced onions, stirring occasionally until lightly browned and softened, 5-10 minutes. Add kosher salt then seasoning blend evenly across, toss to combine well. Then add cauliflower, and chickpeas, give it a good toss to
seasonwith seasoned onions. Add more oil if it appears dry. Add ponzu and toss again. Turn off heat then add all the arugula and gently incorporate into the recipe using tongs until it has wilted. Remove from heat, add in diced mango and toss to combine. Serve hot with a few pinches of chopped cilantro on top.
- Recipe adaptations: I forgot to soak chick peas overnight as the recipe states, so I used canned. I didn’t toast the spice seeds either (since my lazy side went for ground spices, gasp.). Added cinnamon and ginger to add warm spices to the mix and used mangoes grown locally, rather than Alfonso mango as suggested since they are not available.
- On mangoes: be sure to use ripe mangoes (feel soft to the touch), not the pre-cut ones, which tend to be bland and dry for the best-tasting results. However, Ottolenghi strongly suggests the use of alphonso mango for its’ distinct flavor, if you can find them, use those. Didn’t have any green chile so I left that out and used wild arugula instead of spinach since it blocks iron absorption and is a very high oxalate food. All the adaptations worked without a hitch.
- Variations if not fond of mango or unavailable: try fresh pineapple, fig, or pomegranate.
Aquafaba: If you are egg-free or vegan, don’t discard the chickpea liquid (also known as aquafaba) — it makes a terrific egg substitute. More on that here —> https://www.vegansociety.com/whats-new/blog/13-amazing-things-you-can-do-aquafaba
- Ponzu is a Japanese rice wine vinegar with citrus notes. It has a distinct, slightly sweet, acidic flavor and can be found in most stores, or online. Also use for salad dressings, marinades (beef or pork), in dipping sauces, where ever Worcestershire is called for (veggie or other burgers), and also a last-minute splash to sauteed vegetables for extra flavor. Some brands may have gluten so be sure to buy gluten free. I use Marukan brand.
- I add sea kelp granules for iodine since my boys don’t get enough in their diet, it doesn’t add much flavor and can certainly be omitted.
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