Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Quick & Healthy: Moroccan Vegetable Sauté with Garbanzo Beans

“I love beans,” said Mike as he pilfered a few garbanzos from the colander and popped them in his mouth. I told him not to eat them all before I could add them to the cinnamon and curry-scented vegetables I was sautéing, but I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment. Mike has always been partial to black beans, as they make such good burritos. I brought white beans into our repertoire after an Italian cooking class several years ago, and both of us have been eating loads of garbanzos these days in salads, as hummus and in dishes like this Moroccan Vegetable Sauté. One of our favorite formulas for a fast, healthy dinner is beans combined with sautéed vegetables served over a whole grain. This kind of meal is totally virtuous (perfect when you need to detox after a weekend of food indulgences), yet filling and full of whatever flavors you choose as accents. By the way, it is vegetarian, but you may not even notice the absence of meat.

You could take our formula and try white beans with sautéed tomatoes, summer squash and red onions flavored with a pinch of dried oregano and fresh basil over barley. How about black beans with spinach, red bell peppers and corn over quinoa? I love the pop-in-your-mouth textural combination of corn with quinoa, and you could use chili powder, diced jalapeno, lime and cilantro for a southwestern-style dish. For a bit more richness, add cheese (chunks of salty feta go with almost anything) or toasted nuts to any of these combinations. Mike joked that we should just put lists of every grain, vegetable, and bean we like up on the refrigerator door and create our meals by making new combinations from the three categories.

The Moroccan-themed dish we made here is seasoned with curry, cumin and chili powder, but the distinct taste of the cinnamon, not overly sweet, but in balance with the spice and mild heat, makes the flavor complex and distinctly Moroccan. After enjoying the veggies and garbanzos over couscous, I told Mike that he just had a vegan meal. I was then treated to a speech about how he could never give up cheese (not to mention meat). Still, we both think that vegetarians, vegans and carnivores can all enjoy this. Maybe beans can unite us all…

Moroccan Vegetable Sauté with Garbanzo Beans
Adapted from Vegetarian Times. Feel free to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned or substitute any of the vegetables for what you have on hand. The quantities of spices given here are completely negotiable. Taste as you go and add more of this or that. I added the garam masala because I had some in the cupboard that I wanted to experiment with, but with the cumin, curry and coriander, it is a bit redundant (garam masala is a spice blend that can include all three of these), so leave it out if you like. I think this would also be delicious with lentils instead of garbanzos.
Serves 4

1 ½ tblsp. olive oil, divided1 medium onion, chopped1 ½ tsp. curry powder, or to taste
½ tsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. of garam masala½ tsp. ground cinnamon2-3 cloves garlic minced
2 medium zucchini, chopped
1 ½ c. shredded carrots
15-oz.can diced tomatoes with juice2 (15 oz.) cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
¼ to ½ c. water
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste½ cup chopped cilantro
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1 ¼ c. whole wheat couscous

In your largest skillet, heat 1 tblsp. of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until onion is soft and just beginning to brown. Add the remaining oil and quickly add the spices, stirring constantly and coating the onions well. Add the garlic, zucchini and carrots, and cook until the zucchini begin to soften and reduce in volume. Add the tomatoes with their juice, the garbanzos and the water, starting with ¼ of a cup and adding a bit more if the skillet is too dry. Allow the mixture to simmer, stirring occasionally, until only a small amount of liquid remains in the skillet. Taste and adjust the spices and add some salt and fresh ground pepper if you like. Add the lemon zest and juice and all but a couple tablespoons of cilantro. Remove from heat.

Meanwhile, prepare the couscous according to package directions. I used vegetable broth, but water is fine too. I also did not bother to add butter or olive oil, as the couscous eventually gets mixed with the flavorful veggies. Serve the vegetable-garbanzo mixture over the fluffy bed of couscous and garnish with cilantro.

Simmering the veggies and garbanzos. This is the time to taste and fiddle with the spices as much as you want.

Virtuous and tasty!


Jennifer said...

Quick, easy, AND healthy? Now that's my kind of recipe. I bet my husband would love this too; he's also a bean person.

Ivonne said...

You know, Julie, these are precisely the types of recipes that I think we all need more of. Too often I equate quick and easy with something distasteful like using too many pre-packaged foods.

But this dish looks gorgeous, sounds delicious and is so good for you! I love all the options for variations that you've given.


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