Chole Saag

Mark’s been sick this week and wasn’t up for dinner tonight. Long-time readers may know that when Mark doesn’t eat dinner, dinner is Indian! I’d been planning a nice autumn meal of seitan, kale, and delicata squash before he announced he wasn’t hungry, so I decided to save it for tomorrow instead of eating it alone. But then I eyed up the kale and considered how much I’d been looking forward to eating it…so I didn’t put it away.

Like a lot of my Indian meals, because they are generally impromptu affairs born of Mark’s refusal of dinner, this recipe was made up on the fly using ingredients I had on hand and needed to use up. I’d done a really smart thing Sunday afternoon after returning home from LA: I cooked up a pound of dried chickpeas, reserving some for salads, and freezing the rest. I also cooked up a large batch of rice and portioned it into single serving sizes, which were also frozen, ready for me to grab for a quick meal down the road. Tonight that quick meal was realized.

Chole Saag

1/2 large or 1 small onion, small dice
about 1″ of ginger, grated
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, chopped into fairly small pieces
8 oz spinach, also chopped into fairly small pieces
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 cup vegetable broth or water, plus additional (I start with 1/2 cup broth and add plain water)
salt to taste (I used Indian black salt, but regular old salt is fine)
asafoetida to taste (optional; I love the stuff)
lemon wedges, for serving

In a large pan, pot, or wok, heat some oil over medium high heat, then add the onions, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, turmeric, garam masala, and asafoetida if desired. Cook until soft, then add the kale. Stir and cook down slightly, then add the spinach. Stir and cook down again, then reduce heat to medium and add about 1/2 cup broth or water and the chickpeas. Cook for about 20 minutes, adding 1/4 cup of water or broth periodically if it looks dry. Salt to taste. Serve over basmati rice with lemon wedges.

Since I didn’t take prep photos (I didn’t know it would be blog-worthy!), this post seems uncharacteristically short. To make up for it, here are some pictures I took shortly before our vacation, when I spotted a cardinal outside the window taking a bath in an overturned planter. Not the greatest pictures since I was taking them through both a screen and dirty glass, but the subject is pretty.

I wasn’t the only one charmed!

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Kale and Corn Chowder

I got Mark to eat TWO servings of leafy greens in one meal!! Does the glee in my voice translate to the typed word?!

I wouldn’t call Mark a picky eater by any means: he practically demands to eat Brussels sprouts, for god’s sake, but unlike me who will eat pretty much anything vegan that is NOT a mushroom, he has his limits, and leafy greens are in most cases across the line. Whereas I love spinach, he hates it, or cooked spinach anyway. He will eat raw spinach in a salad. And forget about collard greens or kale. So although I like collard greens and kale, I don’t make them that often because I know he won’t eat them. (Spinach is so easy that I will often make it as a side dish for myself.) But I bought some kale tonight because, by golly, that stuff is awesome for your health and we are going to eat it! So I came up with the following recipe that satisfied my requirements of maximizing the use of my my new toy AND getting kale down Mark’s gullet. And he LOVED it! While it was still cooking, he exclaimed “I don’t know what you are making, but it smells incredibly amazing!” And it seemed to live up to his expectations when he ate it.

Kale and Corn Chowder

I tried – I really did – to get a picture of the ingredients either without Tigger or with him in his entirety, but it wasn’t working out for me, so unfortunately you are stuck with a picture that includes his butt.

1 leek, chopped (white and green parts are okay)
1/2 celeriac (celery root), chopped (or 3 stalks of celery, chopped)
2 medium carrots, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 red chili pepper, minced (to taste)
4 cups water, veggie broth, or vegan “chicken” broth
1 small bunch kale, chopped
3 red potatoes, chopped (I had tiny potatoes and used however many are shown in the picture)
1-2 Tbsp vegan “bacon” bits (optional; adds a smoky flavor that attracts Smarks)
1-2 cans creamed corn
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme, for garnish

Maybe it’s because I have lived without a proper food processor for, gosh, about five years now, but it rarely ever occurs to me to use a mini chopper or the mixie’s chopper blade, or anything other than my chef’s knife to chop vegetables. I like using my knife, even though my knife skills are not superior. But I wanted to test out the new Multiquick, so its chopping attachment got a little workout tonight.

It chopped the leek:

And the carrot, celeriac, chili pepper, and garlic:

Meanwhile, I heated up a Dutch oven (or large soup pot) and added a little olive oil. When the oil was hot I added all of the above …

… and sauteed until soft.

Then I added the broth, potatoes, and kale.

And the optional “bacon” bits.

Then I covered and cooked for half an hour, or until potatoes were very soft.

Blend to desired consistency with an immersion blender (or cool and puree in batches in a regular blender).

Add the creamed corn. I only had one can (and despite frantically searching for some frozen corn, which I usually have stocked in the freezer, I found no more), and the soup was definitely a success, but I wanted to add more. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish with the fresh thyme.

Some food bloggers label their recipes as “kid-friendly” when their kids particularly like a recipe. If I were to invent a “Mark-friendly” label, this soup would definitely win the prestige. He polished off two bowls and complimented it profusely the entire time. I served it with a tossed salad made with a ton of baby spinach, which he also gobbled up. And that’s how I got two servings of leafy green vegetables – and a host of other veggies – into Mark in one sitting!

This made about 5 servings: I had one, Mark had two, I packed one for lunch tomorrow, and there is another one leftover.

PS Tigger is STILL in the box:

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