Make Ahead

Almost-meal-prep Chickpeas and Greens Four Ways

February  9, 2020
1 Ratings
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 6-8
Author Notes

Meal prepping has never felt particularly exciting to me, mostly because cooking brings me a lot of joy and I haven't had the same lunch every day since second grade's peanut butter sandwiches on white bread. The convenience of having a tasty, hot lunch every day, without having to stop and cook from scratch, however, is appealing.

My solution is a core of ingredients that are prepared as a base and then divided into quarters, each portion getting separate seasonings or additional ingredients inspired by different cuisines, which can be prepped ahead or the same day you plan to eat it. This idea is infinitely adaptable, and is more riffing on the legumes-and-greens staples across many cultures and less recipe. Consider the below a framework and suggestions, but adjust each according to your own preferences.

Inspiration for many of these recipes from Smitten Kitchen (quick pasta and chickpeas, chickpea and kale shakshuka), Cookie and Kate's West African Peanut Stew, and Minimalist Baker's many chickpea and/or coconut curries —Marcella Maki

What You'll Need
  • Chickpea-Tomato Base
  • 28-30 ounces canned chickpeas (two cans)
  • 14 ounces diced tomatoes (I like fire roasted)
  • 2 ounces double concentrated tomato paste
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce (one small can)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 shallot, (or sub half an onion)
  • 1 bunch flat leaf/Tuscan kale, or another sturdy green
  • salt and pepper, to taste (adjust for each variation)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, or other neutral oil
  • The add-ons
  • 14 ounces unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (or to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder (or to taste), see notes in variation
  • 4 ounces small pastas, such as orechiette, or ditalini
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 2 ounces feta, crumbled (or chevre, or skip it)
  • 1 egg (or two, if you like)
  • 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 small sweet potato
  • Hot sauce, to taste
  • Rice, couscous, or whole grains for serving
  • Other spices, such as coriander, cardamom, za'tar, hot pepper, etc. to taste. Suggestions in each variation
  • Some variations call for adding water. You can swap vegetable broth if you like
  1. To make the chickpea-tomato base: Mince the garlic and shallot or onion. In a large 5 quart pot, heat the olive oil, then sauté the garlic and shallot. When they are translucent, add in the tomato paste. Cook over medium heat until the tomato paste begins to caramelize - it's okay if it sticks a bit to the bottom of the pan and even gets a bit dark. Add the two cans of drained chickpeas, the tomato sauce, and the diced tomatoes. You can also be flexible with the tomatoes here. Two cans of diced, all sauce, etc. will work just fine. Add enough water to be sure the chickpeas are completely covered. Simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes, or until the chickpeas soften and the brightness of the tomatoes has mellowed. When the chickpeas are nearly soft, de-stem the kale and tear into bite-sized pieces. You can either add it all now, which means will probably get quite soft and dark green by the time you cook all versions, or portion it out in the fridge and drop into each variation when heating it, for a more bright green, fresher taste.
  2. Variation 1: Yellow Coconut Curry With 1/4 portion of the base in a medium saucepan, add the curry, garam masala, and coconut milk. Simmer for 5 - 10 minutes. Add the kale if you haven't already, and simmer another 5 minutes or so, until it reaches your preferred texture. This is just a starting point for spices. I often improvise - cardamom, fresh ginger, turmeric, and coriander are all great additions. Serve with rice, if you like.
  3. Variation 2: Pasta and Chickpeas With 1/4 portion of the base in a smaller saucepan, add 1 cup of water (or broth, if you like), the 4 ounces of pasta, the dried basil, and salt to taste. Simmer until the pasta is tender. You can cook the pasta separately, and then combine, but I like the starches from the pasta water to thicken the broth, and the pasta to absorb the flavor from the tomatoes. Add the kale at the end if it's not in your base. Feel free to improvise with the spices: black pepper, rosemary, and oregano are all solid additions (or substitutions) for the basil here. A sprinkle of Parmigiano reggiano on top is very delicious.
  4. Variation 3: Chickpea Shakshuka With 1/4 portion of the base in a medium frying pan, add a drizzle of water and the crushed red pepper. If you like za'tar, black pepper, coriander, etc. you can also add those here, to taste. The mixture should be thick enough that you can use the back of a spoon to make a little hollow for the poached egg. If it's too runny, simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Add the kale, if you haven't, and bring to a low simmer. Sprinkle the feta around the pan, and gently make a small indent for the egg (or two, if you'd like). Crack the egg into a small dish, and then gently slide into the pan. Cover and cook on low, around 7 - 8 minutes, until the whites are firm but the yolks are still runny and soft. Serve with bread, couscous, or a grain, if you like.
  5. Variation 4: West African-ish Peanut Stew Peel the sweet potato and cut into small cubes. With 1/4 portion of the base in a smaller saucepan, add 1 cup of water (or broth), the sweet potato, and salt to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the sweet potato is tender enough to pierce with a fork. Add the kale at the end if it's not in your base, along with the peanut butter and hot sauce. As with the other recipes, feel free to improvise with the spices: black pepper, other kinds of hot pepper or hot pepper sauces, ginger, and Sriracha are great additions. Excellent over rice, bulgar, farro, couscous, etc.

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