Friday, November 4, 2011

Chickpeas and Rice with Tahineh

When I was in the Middle East, I ate more chickpeas and chickpea products than I could possibly fathom.  I really, really, really love chickpeas; as far as I'm concerned, they're just about the best source of plant protein ever.  (And it's one of the gazillion things I love about the Middle East, in case that wasn't already obvious!)

Here in DC, a friend of my husband's is originally from Lebanon.  When his mom comes to visit him, he usually invites Hubs and I to come over dinner -- at which point his mom cooks up a storm and feeds all until we're lying on the ground sporting Buddha bellies.  Gradually, we all emerge from our food comas...only to crawl over to the kitchen for another serving of delicious home-cooked Lebanese food.  Let's put it like this: I try to wear elastic waistband pants when she's visiting.  It's *that* awesome.

One of the dishes she made for me (in addition to being an amazing cook, she's also totally willing to accommodate my gluten allergy and my plant-eating ways!) was a chickpea and rice dish that incorporated tahineh.  Tahineh, a paste made of ground sesame seeds, is a critical component in hummus (which I think just might be humanity's greatest contribution to the world, no?) - and it lends a creamy, mild flavor to the dishes that incorporate it.

For this dish, I added some sauteed onions as well as a touch of coriander powder and a bit of ground cinnamon for warmth.  I then topped it with some aah-may-zing roasted sweet potato, courtesy of this fantastic recipe from Nada over at One Arab Vegan.  I've generally avoided sweet potatoes before, but this recipe is effing delicious!  It went wonderfully with the chickpeas and rice, and it added a beautiful pop of color to my plate.

Chickpeas and Rice with Tahineh:
8 oz. chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon tahineh
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon coriander
1/4 cup brown rice
Salt and pepper to taste

Step 1: saute the onion in the olive oil. 

Step 2: Once it's starting to brown, add the rice, spices, and chickpeas.  Stir until it's all mixed up.

Step 3:  Remove from heat, place in a bowl, and stir in the tahineh.

Step 4:  Top with the vegetable of your choice, and enjoy!

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