Monday, August 5, 2013

Baked Chickpea Kofta Tacos with Avocado and Harissa

kofta tacos

These heavenly little chickpea cakes served as a taco topping are rather a cross between a kofta and a falafel. Essentially a fusion dish, India, the Middle East and Mexico all embrace the flavors that I enjoy most, so why not mix them all together to create one stunning dish that is especially suited to summer weather and patio dining. These taco delights are spicy, especially with a zesty but fresh-tasting green herb harissa, but the heat is all balanced nicely by cooling avocado, tomatoes and corn, and a scoop of yogurt if you please.

I took advantage of the fresh herbs, peppers and tomatoes that are popping up in my backyard garden — summer is much too short and the growing seasoning particularly precious. Although fresh herbs are available year round, I always find that I end up wasting much of what I buy because the bunches are frequently far larger than I need — hence the appeal of herbs that I grow myself as I can pick what I need for dinner, in addition to admiring the plants grown with loving care. And of course, there is nothing better than fresh homegrown peppers and tomatoes to adorn your meals.

What I particularly found appealing when I was drafting and assembling the dish is that the koftas are baked instead of fried, meaning less mess and it cuts down on the cooking time. I for one don't relish the idea of excess oil, nor standing over a hot stove meticulously frying up batches at a time.

chickpea tacos

Here is what I did, but the possibilities are endless and any number of toppings can be used to enhance the taco experience, such as cucumber, a fresh tomato salsa sauce, green onion and/or tzatziki. If you are feeding a number of people and want to please the crowd, it's fun to let your guests build their own tacos and choose the toppings of their choice. I also opted to serve mine with some nutty quinoa on the side. If you want to make this dish vegan, omit the yogurt or ricotta cheese in the koftas and add more oil as needed.

This is my contribution to My Legume Love Affair, administered by me and kindly hosted this month by Siri. There are four prizes to be won this time around and as usual, we are very much looking forward to your inspired entries. Congrats to Siri on her anniversary of 6 years of blogging.

Baked Chickpea Kofta Tacos with Avocado and HarissaBaked Chickpea Kofta Tacos with Avocado and Harissa
Recipe by
Inspired by What's Cooking Good Looking
Cuisine: Middle Eastern/Indian/Mexican
Published on August 5, 2013

Soft, creamy and spicy baked chickpea, potato and herb koftas served with avocado, tomato, corn and a zesty fresh-tasting green harissa on warm corn tortillas

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Green jalapeño herb harissa:
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 2 to 3 dried whole red chilies, broken into pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 jalapeños, seeded and chopped
  • 1 habenaro chili, seeded and chopped (optional)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh parsley, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • juice from 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • sesame oil as needed
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (2/3 cup dried or 1 19 oz can)
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 1 medium potato, cooked, peeled and mashed
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro or parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh chives
  • 1 small onion or large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon amchoor powder (optional)
  • a few pinches of asafetida (optional)
  • 1 red or green chili, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chickpea flour (besan)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 3 tablespoons yogurt or ricotta cheese (optional)
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 10 to 12 6-inch or 7-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 avocado, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels, roasted or boiled until tender
  • plain yogurt (optional)
  • Begin by making the harissa. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds and dried red chilies in a dry pan over medium heat until fragrant — about 3 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and add the garlic, jalapeños, habenaro if using, fresh herbs, lemon juice and salt. Pulse together and add sesame oil to achieve a creamy consistency. Set aside at room temperature or in the refrigerator until needed.

  • To prepare the koftas, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the cooked chickpeas and pine nuts in a food processor and process until the ingredients are ground into a coarse even meal. Scoop about 1/3 of this mixture into the bowl, add the cooked potato, and stir well to combine.

  • Return the potato and chickpea mixture to the food processor and add the parsley or cilantro, chives, onion or shallot, spices, chili, salt, baking powder, chickpea flour and sesame seeds. Pulse for 2 to 3 minutes to combine, then add the yogurt or ricotta if using. Add sesame oil as needed (use more if you are omitting the yogurt or ricotta cheese) and continue to process until you get a moist mixture that will hold together to shape into small patties.

  • Rub your hands with oil and shape the kofta mixture into 12 small patties — about 2 inches in diameter. Transfer to the prepared sheet and refrigerate for 1 to 2 hours.

  • When you are ready to bake the koftas, heat an oven to 375°. Bake the koftas for 30 minutes, gently flipping them part way through the baking time, until both sides are golden brown.

  • To serve, place a warmed corn tortilla on a plate and brush with a teaspoon of harissa. Top with avocado, chopped tomato, a sprinkle of corn, and 1 or 2 koftas as desired. Spread a little more harissa on the kofta and drizzle a little whisked yogurt on top if desired.

  • Wrap and serve to be eaten with your hands or a fork.

Makes 10 to 12 tacos or 4 to 6 servings
tacos with avocado and harissa and koftas

More delightful savory patties you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Chickpea Patties Smothered in Vegetable Gravy
Quinoa Goat Cheese and Parmesan Cakes
Curried Quinoa and Wild Rice Savory Cakes
Cheese and Herb Fritters with Tomato and Balsamic Jam

On the top of the reading stack: Indian Cooking Unfolded: A Master Class in Indian Cooking, with 100 Easy Recipes Using 10 Ingredients or Less by Raghavan Iyer

Audio Accompaniment: Harold Budd

Friday, August 2, 2013

Chunky Cashew Tamarind Chutney

tamarind chutney

Chutneys are always a pleasure to have on hand and they are relatively easy to make at home and keep for a while in the refrigerator if stored properly. A wonderful and nourishing accompaniment to your favorite flatbreads, rice and pretty much any Indian savory you can think of, this is my newest experiment that I cooked up to serve with some savory lentil and rice pancakes. Slightly sweet due to the addition of tamarind, textured, a bit nutty and not overly spicy, I am sure you will find this a welcome staple to have on hand in your own kitchen.

Cashew Tamarind Chutney with CoconutCashew Tamarind Chutney with Coconut
Recipe by
Cuisine: Indian
Published on August 2, 2013

Delicious tamarind and coconut chutney with layers of textures and tangy, zesty and spicy flavors — a real treat served with Indian savories or flatbreads

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Tamarind sauce:
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1/2 cup tamarind paste, seeds removed
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • pinch of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Other ingredients:
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews, broken into pieces
  • 1/4 cup toor dal or chana dal, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons skinned urad dal, rinsed
  • 6 to 8 dried whole red chilies, broken into pieces
  • a few handfuls of dried curry leaves
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • 1/3 cup dried grated unsweetened coconut
  • Combine the water, tamarind, asafetida, turmeric, chili powder and salt in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the mixture is thickened, stirring occasionally — about 15 minutes.

cashew tamarind chutney
  • Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. When hot, toss in the mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds and cumin seeds and stir for a few minutes until the mustard seeds begin to turn grey and splutter and pop. Add the cashews, toor dal or chana dal, urad dal and red chilies. Continue to stir for 2 to 3 minutes.

  • Now toss in the curry leaves, sesame seeds and coconut and stir for 1 minute or until the coconut becomes fragrant. Transfer the contents of the pan to the tamarind sauce and simmer for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  • Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Serve immediately or store in a tightly sealed container for up to a week. Serve with your favorite Indian flatbreads or with steaming hot rice.

Makes about 3 cups
cashew tomato chutney

More chutney recipes from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Coconut and Mint Chutney
Fresh Tomato Chutney
Roasted Toor Dal and Coconut Chutney
Velvety Tomato Chutney

On the top of the reading stack: cookbooks - new additions to the collection

Audio Accompaniment: Carbon Based Lifeforms

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

No Croutons Required - The Winner for July

no croutons required

The challenge for July was to come up with a vegetarian legume salad. The contributions are sure to stimulate your appetite and culinary imagination. We do have to crown a winner though and the most popular this month is Rachel Cotterill's Warm Halloumi Salad with Lime Dressing. Bursting with flavour and goodness, the textures and variety in this salad are impressive. Congratulations Rachel. I can't wait to try your dish.

halloumi salad

Jacqueline will be hosting the August edition of No Croutons Required. Check back soon for the theme.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sweet Potato Chickpea Soup

sweet potato chickpea soup

After a week of high temperatures and humidity, there is again a chill in the air and a fair amount of rain. A hot bowl of this colorful and gently spiced homemade sweet potato and chickpea soup is just the thing to heat the body up and raise the spirits. So simple to make, the act of putting together and simmering a pot of comforting soup to warm and nourish yourself and your loved ones is sure to brighten your day and table, and the tender pieces of sweet potato have a wonderfully sunny disposition, don't you think?

 Sweet Potato Chickpea Soup Sweet Potato Chickpea Soup
Recipe by
Published on July 29, 2013

Simple, warming and nourishing soup with chickpeas, sweet potato and gentle spices

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  • 1 cup dried chickpeas (3 cups cooked or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced or grated
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1 sweet potato, diced
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced
  • 3 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • Rinse the chickpeas and soak in several inches of water for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a large saucepan and cover with at least 4 cups of fresh water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until the chickpeas are tender. Drain and reserve 2 cups of the cooking liquid.

  • Wipe the saucepan dry and add the olive oil. Heat over medium heat, then add the onion, jalapeño and garlic, and stir for 3 to 4 minutes or until the onion is soft. Toss in the ginger, stir for 30 seconds, then stir in the spices. Add the potato, sweet potato and celery, and stir to coat the vegetables with oil and spice.

  • Pour in the reserved chickpea cooking liquid and vegetable stock or water, raise the heat to medium-high, and bring the soup to a low boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 20-30 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

  • Remove from heat and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Serve hot or warm. Reheat leftover soup on medium-low heat and thin with a little extra water.

  • Note: If using canned or already cooked chickpeas, increase the amount of vegetable stock or water in the recipe to 5 cups.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
chickpea vegetable soup

Other warming soups that you will enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Black-Eyed Pea and Vegetable Soup
Chickpea and Cabbage Soup
Hearty Italian Bean and Pasta Soup
Spicy White Bean and Turnip Soup

On the top of the reading stack: Affliction by Russell Banks

Audio Accompaniment: the washing machine

Friday, July 26, 2013

Pinto Bean and Avocado Burritos


Summertime is perfect for easy meals that can be enjoyed on the patio. Mind you, these zesty and creamy pinto bean burritos would be delicious any time of year but wrapping up vibrant Mexican-spiced goodness in a handheld burritos seems especially suited to warm summer days. Apart from a bit of chopping and cooking the beans, this fresh-tasting burrito filling with avocado, corn and cilantro all comes together in very little time. Vegans may leave out the cheese and sour cream, of course, and the results would still be most pleasing to serve up. Spicy and cooling, and packed full of flavor, this one comes highly recommended from my kitchen.

So, what did I make to please my husband and best friend so much?

pinto bean burritos with avocado

Pinto Bean and Avocado BurritosPinto Bean and Avocado Burritos
Recipe by
Cuisine: Mexican
Published on July 26, 2013

Vibrant, zesty and creamy fresh-tasting pinto bean burritos with avocado, cilantro, corn and spices — refreshing on a warm summer day

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  • 1 1/4 cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 ancho (dried poblano) chili
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1 avocado, peeled and chopped or diced
  • juice from 1 lime (2 tablespoons)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, leaves and stalks, chopped
  • 8 7-inch flour or corn tortillas, warmed
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 to 2 jalapeños, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch or two of cayenne (optional)
  • 2 large plum tomatoes, partially seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt, or to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh grated extra-old Cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • Rinse the beans and soak for 8 hours or overnight in enough water to cover. Drain and rinse, then transfer to a medium saucepan and cover with several inches of fresh water. Add ancho chili, bay leaf, and onion, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 hour or until the beans are tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool. Discard the onion and bay leaf. Scoop out the seeds from the ancho chili and set aside.

  • When the beans have cooled, gently toss in the avocado, lime juice, ancho chili seeds and fresh cilantro.

  • Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed medium saucepan. When hot, toss in the shallot and stir for 2 to 3 minutes to soften. Add the cumin seeds, jalapeños, chili powder, paprika and cayenne if using, and continue to stir for another minute.

  • Now add the tomatoes and cook, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Stir in the corn and cook for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and then stir in the Cheddar cheese and sour cream.

  • Taste for seasoning and stir the mixture into the beans and avocado.

  • Serve wrapped in warmed 10-inch flour or corn tortillas with sour cream, hot sauce, chili powder or cilantro as garnish, or serve as a dip with crunchy baked tortilla chips.

Makes 8 7-inch burritos or 4 servings
Mexican burritos

More pinto bean dishes you are sure to enjoy from Lisa's Vegetarian Kitchen:
Corn and Pinto Bean Dip
Roasted Corn and Jalapeño Cheese Soup
Refried Beans with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Vegetarian Three Bean Chili with a Cashew-Pistachio Sauce

On the top of the reading stack: various stacks

Audio Accompaniment: Aes Dana

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

No-Bake Lemon Cherry Cheesecake

cherry cheesecake

No-bake is just about right at the moment, with temperatures soaring over 30 degrees in addition to the humidity which steps things up another 10 degrees here in southwestern Ontario. I never mind the heat, really, but even for me, who was freezing to the point of sickness for the duration of a never-ending long Canadian winter, it's a bit much. Perhaps more surprising is that this savory girl wanted to make a dessert in the first place, but sugar in moderation isn't going to hurt you and this cake has some healthy additions besides.

cherry cheesecake

This recipe appealed to me in particular because it didn't have a graham cracker base, but a blend of oats, walnuts and dried fruit. The original recipe called for raisins, but I used a combination of dried cherries and cranberries instead. Either way, you are in for a treat, especially when fresh cherries are in season for a wonderful fresh-tasting no-cook cherry sauce served over top.

cherry cheesecake

No-Bake Lemon Cherry CheesecakeNo-Bake Lemon Cherry Cheesecake
Recipe by
Adapted from The No-Cook No-Bake Cookbook: 101 Delicious Recipes for When It's Too Hot to Cook
Published on July 23, 2013

Easy, rich and creamy no-bake lemon cheesecake with a healthy nut and dried fruit crust served with a delicious fresh no-cook cherry sauce

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  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 2/3 cup dried cherries
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated
  • 8 oz (225 g) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • juice from 1 lemon (3 tablespoons)
Cherry sauce topping:
  • 1 1/4 cup pitted sweet cherries
  • 2 tablespoons honey or agave
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Line the bottom of a 9-inch or 10-inch springform pan or cake pan with parchment paper.

  • Pulse the oats and walnuts together in a food processor to achieve a fine blend. Add the dried cherries and cranberries, oil and ginger, and continue t pulse until you have a well combined moist mixture. Press this mixture evenly and firmly into the prepared pan. Chill in the refrigerator while you prepare the cheese filling.

  • In a large bowl, cream together the cream cheese, ricotta, sugar, lemon zest and juice until smooth. Transfer to the base and spread evenly with a spatula. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours.

  • Next prepare the cherry sauce. Combine the cherries, honey or agave, vanilla, almond extract (if using) and cloves in a food processor or blender and process until smooth. If desired, strain to remove pieces of cherry skin.

  • To serve, drizzle some cherry sauce over slices of the chilled cake.

Makes 6 to 8 servings
no-bake cherry cheesecake

More cakes from Lisa's Kitchen you are sure to enjoy:
Ricotta Cheesecake with Mixed Berries and Balsamic Vinegar
Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake
Goat Cheese Cheesecake with Ricotta Cheese
Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

On the top of the reading stack: Affliction by Russell Banks

Audio Accompaniment: silence

Monday, July 22, 2013

No Croutons Required - Bean Salads

The challenge for July was to come up with a vegetarian salad featuring legumes. It's plenty hot this month and salads are an easy way to provide nourishment without too much fuss or heat in the kitchen. A special thanks to all the cooks who submitted an entry. I kindly ask that you vote for your favorite in the comment section or via email. Please note that neither my submission nor Jacqueline's is eligible for the vote. Without further ado, let's serve it up.

Our first entry is this healthy Sprouted Black Chickpea Mixed Salad from Anshu of My Mom's Recipes. Intended as an entree salad, this one is a feast for the eyes and the body. Here sprouted black chickpeas are tossed with cherry tomatoes, sweet pepper, red onion, carrots, cucumber, beets, jalapeno, seasoning and olive oil and served over fresh greens and drizzled with some Italian dressing and garnished with Parmesan. That is one fancy salad that sounds perfect for hot summer days.

couscous salad

Next up is Elizabeth of Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary with this colorful Three Bean Couscous Salad that is a complete meal in itself though it was made as a side dish. Either way, this combination of red onion, couscous, red pepper, cannellini, flageolet and adzuki beans, sultanas, seasoning and parsley makes for an impressive patio dish that will surely impress your dinner guests.

chickpea salad

Janet from the Taste Space enters this month with a most flavorful Morrocan Carrot and Chickpea Salad that makes good use of pantry ingredients. Carrots, chickpeas, dates and cilantro are dressed with a mixture of cumin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, sweetener and some seasoning. Sweet, earthy, tart and obviously nourishing, served alongside a bed of brown rice, you are in for one delicious supper.


Kavitha of Techie Cookie Freaky shares an innovative Kosambari (With Strawberry) that I am certain I could not resist. Mung beans star here, along with grated carrots, lime juice, strawberries, olives, seasoning and red onion if you please. Certainly a lovely balance of flavors in this dish and yet another ideal summer meal.

black-eyed pea salad

My contribution this month is a Black-Eyed Pea Salad with Indian Spices that is sure to impress your dinner guests, especially if served in some radicchio leaves. I've combined earthy black-eyed peas, simmered with some salt and turmeric, and then tossed with tomatoes, green onions, ginger, fresh mint, chillies, chat masala and lime juice and then tempered with cumin seeds, chili powder, ground cumin, paprika and some rock salt. Simple, but most nourishing and light for a perfect summer meal on the patio along with some goat cheese toasts with fresh dill.

Potato and Bean Salad with Zingy Herb Dressing

My lovely friend and co-host of NCR, Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes, has prepared a substantial Potato and Bean Salad with Zingy Herb Dressing that cannot fail to please. This celebration of beans is comprised of wholegrain rice, jersey royal potatoes, black-eyed peas, kidney beans, ripe tomatoes, red pepper and dressed with fresh coriander, olive oil, lemon juice and freshly cracked black pepper. Comforting and delicious indeed.

halloumi salad

Our final entry is from Rachel Cotterill. This gorgeous Warm Halloumi Salad with Lime Dressing surely would make for a lovely lunch or light dinner to be enjoyed outdoors with some chilled wine. Halloumi is marinated in lime juice and olive oil and then seared, and combined with lightly steamed green beans, asparagus and edamame beans. The vegetables are arranged over salad greens and coriander and topped with the cheese. Elegant and an ideal summer time meal that may be filled out with some crusty bread.

Jacqueline will be hosting the August 2013 edition of No Croutons Required. Check back at the beginning of the month for the theme.