Day 72 – Recipe: Tanzanian Green Banana and Yam Stew (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, corn-free)

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While flipping through a vegetarian cookbook at a restaurant, I came across this recipe for Banana and Yam Stew and instantly was intrigued. At first I thought it sounded really gross but the more I read I became extremely curious. I must’ve read the recipe over at least 4 times, I just couldn’t wrap my head around it. Bananas in a stew? I decided I had to make it, even though it is not stew weather at all right now, it sounded so interesting – and I couldn’t stop thinking about it!

Thankfully it turned out really good. And it took less time than I expected, which is always a bonus. My boyfriend wasn’t as crazy about it as I was – he doesn’t really like cloves (which I didn’t know beforehand), and truthfully the cloves were a bit overpowering. When I make this again I will adjust the spices (this is reflected in the recipe below). I can definitely see eating it when it’s cooler outside, it’s a great winter stew, very hearty, warming, and slightly sweet. The recipe makes enough for about 12 people, I ended up freezing half of it because there was so much. I won’t make my boyfriend eat it again though, Mom and Dad I hope you like cloves!

Green Banana and Yam Stew
Adapted From Linda McCartney on Tour

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided

  • 2 pounds yams or sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced

  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

  • 1 medium red onion, chopped

  • 1 large tomato, chopped roughly

  • 1 large carrot, sliced into thin rounds

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • 4 cups vegetable stock

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot mixed with 2 tablespoons water

  • 2 green bananas, sliced

 

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the yams or sweet potatoes and cook until slightly browned, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove to a plate or bowl. In the same pot, heat the other tablespoon of oil over medium heat and add the jalapeno, cilantro, onion, tomato, carrot, garlic, and spices. Cook, stirring, about 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add the bay leaves and lower the heat to a simmer. Stir in the arrowroot mixture. Add the bananas and yams/sweet potatoes. Cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves before serving. Serve alone or with quinoa or couscous. Garnish with fresh cilantro.

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Not the most appetizing color, I promise it tastes better than it looks here.

 

 

 

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Day 64 – Breakfast for Dinner: M Cafe’s Vegan “Benedict” over rice (gluten-free)

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I was hoping to make this for breakfast on Sunday but unfortunately I didn’t wake up until the morning (and most of the afternoon) had passed. Woops. I’ve had a bad streak of insomnia lately (that I’m currently trying to fix) which has led to me sleeping through most of the day. This is really the only reason we had breakfast for dinner. Well actually it was technically my breakfast, but it was Colin’s dinner. Sorry Colin! I don’t think he minded though.

Anyway, as I mentioned before I used to work at M Cafe de Chaya in Los Angeles. I know I have given many of their dishes the title of “my favorite”, but it’s hard not to because all of their food is just amazing. This is absolutely my favorite breakfast item there though, and I was stoked to find the recipe online. I had made a different version of this recipe a few years ago (it was in a book that I bought at the restaurant) and it turned out terrible, it didn’t taste anything like the one I used to eat all the time. Probably because it was the wrong recipe. This is the right one. Yay!

The one I found online was for the Smoked Salmon Benedict, which is the non-vegan version, but I adapted it to reflect the Vegan Benedict (obviously) which is really only different because it is topped with tempeh bacon instead of smoked salmon. Technically it is served over grilled baguette slices, which makes it more like an actual benedict, but I always ordered it over brown rice because that’s how Alicia Silverstone ordered it whenever she came into the restaurant. I’m not ashamed to say that I copied her. But she had the right idea, this is awesome over brown rice. And better yet, gluten-free. So here it is, the Vegan Benedict with rice instead of bread… it is time consuming and you will use more pots than you want to clean but it’s all worth it. GO MAKE THIS NOW!

M Cafe’s Vegan Benedict Florentine with Soy Hollandaise

Ingredients:

Scrambled Tofu:

  • 14 ounces extra-firm tofu, drained on paper towels
  • 1 Tablespoon Earth Balance (I used the Soy Garden variety because it was the only one made without canola oil)
  • ¼ cup minced yellow onion
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons scallions, julienned (optional)

Soy Hollandaise:

  • 4 ounces Earth Balance
  • ½ cup Veganaise
  • 6 ounces (1/2 a block) silken firm tofu (Mori-Nu brand)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Dash of Tabasco

Tempeh Bacon and Garnishes:

  • 12 ounces tempeh bacon (Lightlife brand)
  • 1 small bunch green kale, washed well, de-stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced thick
  • Brown Rice, cooked
  • Minced chives or black sesame seeds for garnish

PREPARATION

For Scrambled Tofu:
Crumble tofu coarsely by hand. Heat Earth Balance in a medium sauté pan. Add onion and sauté 3 minutes or until translucent. Add carrot and sauté 1 more minute. Add crumbled tofu, turmeric and sea salt and black pepper to taste. Heat through and add a few Tablespoons of water. Let simmer until tofu is thick and creamy, and resembles soft-cooked scrambled eggs. Fold in scallions, adjust seasonings, and reserve.

For Soy Hollandaise:
Melt Earth Balance and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in blender and blend well to combine. Drizzle in Earth Balance slowly until emulsified. Taste and adjust seasoning and lemon if necessary. Reserve.

For Tempeh Bacon and Garnishes:

Blanch kale in lightly salted boiling water until tender. Keep warm and reserve. (I did this the night before)

Heat tempeh in a large non-stick skillet til hot and set aside.

To Assemble and Serve:
Place 1/2 – 3/4 cup cooked brown rice on each plate and top with 2 slices tomato. Place steamed kale on top of tomato. Spoon scrambled tofu over kale and lay 2 slices tempeh evenly over tofu. Heat soy hollandaise in a double boiler until just warm – do not over heat or sauce will break. Spoon warm sauce over tempeh and drizzle around the plate. Garnish with chives or black sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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I like a lot of sauce 🙂

Since there are so many components I blanched the kale and cooked the rice the night before.

I also didn’t bother warming the hollandaise in a double boiler, everything else was hot so I just poured it over, it warmed on the plate.

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Day 60 – Recipe: Jackfruit Thai Curry with Bell Peppers and Cashews (vegan, gluten-free, corn-free)

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The first (and only time) I’ve ever had Jackfruit was at a little vegan restaurant in Los Angeles called Pure Luck. I read on Yelp that it is now closed, which is unfortunate because that place was such a find. Their entire menu was built around jackfruit, they didn’t have any soy or fake meats, just jackfruit (Just Jack! fruit LOL). I think I had some kind of BBQ jackfruit sandwich… I don’t remember exactly what it was but I know it was delicious.

I started looking for Jackfruit recipes online last week because I’d remembered seeing cans of it at the Asian market. The first recipe to catch my eye came up on about.com, Jackfruit Curry with Bell Peppers, Cashews and Lime Leaf, by Darlene Schmidt. Even though I’m not a huge fan of bell peppers I decided to go for it. I’ve made a few of Darlene’s recipes before and they were all amazing, I figured this one would be too.

So I went to Lee Lee’s Market looking for cans of “jackfuit in water or brine” (which I really thought I’d seen there) and all I could find was “jackfruit in syrup”, which wasn’t the right kind. So I went to the frozen section and after 10 minutes of looking I finally found frozen jackfruit (why is it so difficult to find anything at Asian markets?!). But I found both green jackfuit and ripe jackfruit, and unfortunately had a brain fart and couldn’t remember which one I was supposed to buy so I grabbed the ripe jackfruit. Wrong one. This is why I ended up at the store again the next day, to return the ripe jackfruit and get the correct one. This is what I finally ended up with:

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Completely frozen solid. I put it in hot water to defrost and it was fine after 30 minutes. I ended up using 2 packages because it didn’t seem like there was much fruit in one package. So here is the recipe I followed, it is slightly different from Darlene’s only because I couldn’t find vegetarian fish sauce, but nevertheless it turned out absolutely delicious. I will definitely make this again. I don’t know if it was the brand of jackfuit I used or what but it was different than I’d remembered. This time the texture was more like a canned artichoke heart or hearts of palm, and kind of tasted like that too… but it was still really good.

Jackfruit Curry with Bell Peppers and Cashews

  • 2 packages frozen jackfruit, preferably unripe/green, OR 2 cans prepared jackfruit in water or brine (not syrup), drained

  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 12 wedges

  • 1 large green bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped/sliced

  • 1 large red bell pepper, de-seeded and chopped/sliced

  • 5 dried black mushrooms, soaked in water for 2 hours to rehydrate then drained, thinly sliced

  • 1 cup dry roasted (unsalted) cashews

  • 1 can coconut milk

  • generous handful of fresh basil for garnish

  • 2 Tbsp. coconut oil for stir-frying

  • white wine (or white cooking wine) for stir-frying

PASTE:

  • 3 large green onions (or 6 small), sliced thin

  • 2 fresh red chilies (or more if you want it ultra spicy), sliced thin

  • 8 whole lime leaves, fresh or frozen, snipped into tiny strips

  • 8 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 Tbsp lime juice

  • 2 Tbsp coconut aminos

  • 1 Tbsp dulse, snipped into flakes

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil

  • 4 Tbsp tamari sauce

  • 1 Tbsp coconut sugar

PREPARATION

  1. First, prepare the curry paste. Place all paste ingredients together in a food processor or mini-chopper and process well. Lime Leaf Tip: Prepare the lime leaves using kitchen scissors to cut out (and discard) the hard central stem. If lime leaves are frozen, you can quickly thaw them by running under some hot water. Set paste aside.

  2. Cut jackfruit into desired bite size pieces, either in strips or cubes/chunks (as you would with chicken). Set aside.

  3. Place 2 Tbsp. oil in a wok or deep frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and stir-fry 3 minutes. Add a little of the wine (1/2 to 1 Tbsp. at a time) instead of more oil whenever wok/pan becomes dry.

  4. Add the bell peppers. Continue stir-frying another 3 minutes, or until peppers have softened and turned bright in color. Again, add a little wine when wok/pan becomes dry to keep ingredients frying nicely.

  5. Add the green jackfuit and black mushrooms. Stir-fry another 3 minutes and add wine for stir-frying if needed.

  6. Add the paste you made earlier, plus the coconut milk. Stir well to combine.

  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low, allowing curry to gently simmer 2-3 minutes, or until ingredients are nicely cooked, but not overcooked. Tip: Try not to overcook this curry, or you will lose the fragrance and taste of the paste.

  8. Just before serving, add the cashews, gently stirring them in. Now do a taste-test, looking for a balance of salty, sour, sweet and spicy. If not salty enough, add more tamari, or a little salt. If too salty for your taste, add another squeeze of lime/lemon juice. If not spicy enough, add more fresh chili. If too spicy, add a little more coconut milk. Add a little more sugar if too sour.

  9. To serve, either portion out in bowls or on plates, or ladle the curry into a serving dish. Sprinkle with generous amounts of fresh basil, and serve with brown rice or quinoa. ENJOY!

Serves 4 – 6, depending on how much they like curry!

 

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Day 59 – Eggplant revisited. A much better recipe: Hot & Sour Eggplant Stir-Fry

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Okay I know this looks pretty much the same as yesterday but it’s not, it’s so much better! I don’t usually make the same thing 2 days in a row but circumstances led me back to the Asian market today and for whatever reason I decided to try this again. Yesterday it was good, but the eggplant didn’t cook down enough so it wasn’t really that good. After looking at some other recipes on the internet, I made some adjustments and this time it turned out fantastic. I could eat the entire pan… and I’m not even that hungry! I renamed it Hot & Sour because today it tasted more hot and sour than sweet and spicy… I don’t really know why, I used pretty much the same ingredients.

But anyways if you’re looking at this now and craving eggplant, don’t make yesterday’s recipe make this one! It took a little longer but it was worth it. Oh and “mushroom broth” isn’t really a broth, it’s the liquid leftover from soaking dried black mushrooms. I only used it because I had some leftover in the fridge and I wanted more sauce. You can substitute vegetable broth or water, or just omit it completely if you want less sauce.

Hot & Sour Eggplant Stir-Fry

  • 1.5 lbs Japanese Eggplant (about 3 medium)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 4.5 T tamari
  • 3 T coconut sugar
  • 3 T brown rice vinegar
  • 3 T mushroom broth (or vegetable broth or water)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 fresh red Thai chilies, thinly sliced
  • 1 green onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 T arrowroot powder
  • 1 T filtered water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thai basil
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes. Place cubed eggplant in a colander and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Toss. Let stand 30 minutes. Rinse thoroughly and drain on paper towels.

Heat 2 T coconut oil in a wok over medium high heat til hot. Add half of the eggplant cubes and stir-fry until eggplant becomes very soft and turns semi-translucent and green-ish in color, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove cooked eggplant and set aside. Add more oil to the wok and repeat with the rest of the eggplant. Remove and set aside.

While the eggplant is cooking, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together tamari, rice vinegar, coconut sugar, mushroom broth and sesame oil. This is the sauce. Set aside.

Add a little more oil to the wok and throw in the red pepper slices. Stir-fry 5 minutes til slightly carmelized and remove.

Add a little more oil to the wok and toss in garlic, ginger, red chilies and green onion. Stir-fry 1 minute until fragrant, then pour the sauce into the wok. Stir well. Carefully mix in eggplant and peppers and stir well.

Turn the heat up to high and bring the sauce to a boil. While the sauce is heating, whisk the arrowroot powder with 1 T filtered water in a small bowl. Pour the arrowroot slurry into the boiling sauce and stir well to combine. Immediately turn heat to low once the sauce has thickened (it will thicken very quickly) and stir to coat vegetables evenly in the thickened sauce. Throw in half of the basil leaves and stir to combine.

Remove from heat and serve over brown rice or quinoa. Garnish with sesame seeds and the rest of the basil. Enjoy!

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So it’s kind of the same recipe but the technique is different. I think cooking the eggplant in 2 batches really helps to ensure it will end up tender. I also felt that the peppers tasted better when stir-fried separately. All in all, this is the better recipe. See for yourself!

 

 

Day 58 – Recipe: Sweet and Spicy Eggplant Stir Fry (Vegan, Gluten-free, Corn-free)

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I can’t believe it’s been almost 2 weeks since I’ve written a post! Woops, it really didn’t seem like that long. I do have an excuse though, I went to visit my parents in Sedona for 10 days and took a break. I did cook a lot, but I didn’t make anything new. I don’t mind trying new recipes for my boyfriend and I in my own home but for whatever reason I didn’t want to make anything new for my parents that might have potentially sucked. So I made a few of my favorite dishes from the past couples months, including M Cafe’s Kale Salad, M Cafe’s Quinoa Salad, Indian Roasted Cauliflower and Potatoes, and the Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Tagine I made a couple weeks ago. I added some fresh apricots to the Tagine this time and it was so good, I’m doing that from now on.

Now I’m back home and back to experimenting. As the weeks have gone by I’m finding it harder to stay excited about this diet, so I’m constantly looking for recipes that excite me. While I was away I found a bunch of great looking new recipes, including this one from the Shiksa in the Kitchen, Sweet and Sour Eggplant. I changed a few things and the sauce turned out amazing, however I cooked the eggplant according to her recipe and it just didn’t cook down enough. Next time I make this I will cut the eggplant smaller and cook it in the wok a lot longer. So this is what I did and also what I will do in the future to make this dish perfect:

Sweet and Spicy Chinese Eggplant Stir Fry

  • 1.5 lbs Chinese or Japanese Eggplant (about 2 large)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 4.5 T Tamari
  • 3 T coconut sugar
  • 3 T brown rice vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 T fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 2 fresh red Thai chilies, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T arrowroot powder
  • 2 T filtered water
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh Thai basil
  • sesame seeds for garnish

Cut eggplant into 1/2 inch cubes. Place cubed eggplant in a single layer on a cutting board and sprinkle generously with sea salt. Let stand 30 minutes.

Thoroughly rinse salt off eggplant in a colander, then pat dry.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together tamari, rice vinegar, coconut sugar, garlic, ginger, red chilies, and sesame oil. Reserve.

In another small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together arrowroot powder and 2 T filtered water. Pour into reserved sauce and whisk til well combined.

Heat coconut oil in a wok over medium high heat til hot. Add eggplant cubes and stir fry until eggplant gets very soft and begins to fall apart, 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the red pepper slices and continue to stir fry 5 more minutes.

Pour the reserved sauce over the eggplant and peppers, and stir until veggies are evenly coated. Mix in half of the basil leaves. Bring sauce to a boil then reduce heat and continue to stir until sauce thickens, about a minute.

Remove from heat and serve over brown rice or quinoa. Garnish with sesame seeds and the rest of the basil. Enjoy!

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Yum! Better for you than at your local Chinese restaurant. And much less oily.

 

 

 

Day 45 – Recipe: Korean Potatoes, Gamja Jolim (vegan and gluten-free)

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More potatoes please!

I found this recipe on Joanne Choi’s blog, Week of Menus. She has a slew of Korean, vegetarian and gluten-free recipes that look delicious. This is the second recipe I’ve tried and it turned out amazing, I could have eaten the entire pan (I almost did). The only issue I had was that my potatoes did not cook evenly because I don’t own a decent pan – I would suggest using a large cast iron skillet if you have one, or a heavy pan that you know heats evenly.

I followed Joanne’s recipe pretty much exactly, except I didn’t have any sake so I substituted a little more water. It worked just as well I think, I practically the drank the sauce out of the pan. If you want to make this recipe gluten-free, substitute tamari for the soy sauce.

This is traditionally a side dish but we ate it as a main course with sauteed broccoli and zucchini, and leftover Morrocan Carrots/Chickpeas.

Korean Soy-Cooked Potatoes

  • 2 – 3 large yukon gold potatoes, skin on, cut into small cubes  (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup filtered water (you may need more depending on the potatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari for GF)
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon sake (or water if you don’t have sake)
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon black sesame seeds for garnish

Place cut potatoes in cold water to remove excess starch. Give them a swirl in the water and drain.

Heat coconut oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add drained potatoes, onions and garlic.  Cook stirring occasionally, until the onions turn translucent, about 10 minutes. 

Add water, soy sauce, and sake to the pan.  Continue cooking, allowing the potatoes to soak up the liquids and cook, stirring occasionally to allow the potatoes to cook evenly (about 20 minutes).  

When all the liquid has evaporated, check to see if potatoes are nearly done.  The potatoes should still hold their form and be slightly firm to the bite (not mushy).  If necessary add a 1/4 cup more water and reduce. Then add honey and sesame oil, stir to coat the potatoes with the mixture.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.

You can serve potatoes hot, or let them cool and serve cold. Enjoy!

 

 

Day 44 – Recipe: Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Tagine (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

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Oh man. I can’t believe it’s been almost a week since my last post. I do have an excuse though, I was in Northern California over the weekend for a family reunion and was fortunate enough not to have to cook at all. My Aunt Pamela, who is from Thailand, was a wonderful hostess and made amazing Thai food for all of us every day – it was such a treat!

I managed to stay vegan everyday except one, and I cheated very badly. My Dad’s birthday was on Saturday and I failed to resist his birthday cake. I normally don’t even like chocolate cake but this one just looked so ridiculously good – and it was. Once I’d eaten the cake I figured I’d already cheated and proceeded to eat slices from 2 other cakes, and a pie… oh my. Needless to say my stomach hurt like a motherf—er afterwards and I felt guilty as hell. Ah well. At least it was only one day.

I got back late last night and had no idea what I was going to cook today. We had an extra bag of baby carrots in the fridge so I started searching for vegan carrot recipes on Google. I came across this one on about.com and thought it sounded really good, Moroccan Vegetarian Carrot and Chickpea Tagine. I’m happy to say it turned out great, and I will definitely make it again. The most predominant spice is pepper so if you have an aversion to peppery dishes you might want to avoid this one, or add (a lot) less black pepper. I only changed a couple things from the original recipe, including using chopped dried apricots instead of raisins – I’m not a big fan of raisins. I take no credit for this recipe, but here is what I did:

Vegan Moroccan Carrot and Chickpea Tagine

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
  • 50 – 60 baby carrots, cut into thin sticks (I cut each into 3 or 4 pieces, depending on size)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, cut in quarters

In the base of a tagine or in a large skillet with a lid, saute the onions and garlic in the olive oil over low heat for several minutes, until soft.

Add the spices, cilantro, the carrots and the vegetable. Cover and simmer over medium-low heat until the carrots are cooked to desired tenderness. In a skillet about 25 minutes; in a tagine a bit longer.

When the carrots are cooked, stir in the honey and add the chickpeas and apricots. Continue simmering until the chickpeas are heated through and the sauce is reduced and thick, about 10 minutes. Taste, adjust seasoning if desired, and serve. Serve hot with cous cous, quinoa, or bread.

Serves 4

I used a skillet and served it over quinoa. Really, really yummy! Plus this took me less than an hour from start to finish. Awesome.