Last night, Andrew and I went out for drinks and food with a friend who’d recently moved back to London. Because I like cooking and am pretty good at it (and yes, am somewhat of a cheapskate), we don’t go out for food too often. Restaurant meals can easily lead to a conversation like Oh, I could make this so much better at home or This would be great if you just replaced x with y, or served it alongside some fresh z“. You get the idea- hardly a relaxing way to spend an evening. Still, we were both looking forward to this night on the town and ventured out with optimism.
After an al fresco pint at a central London dive pub, we ended up at Hix, a Soho restaurant that specialises in British food. We opted to eat at the swanky downstairs bar, and while I loved the extensive cocktail list, the food menu was positively heaving with meat. Beef, lamb, partridge, deer- seriously, it was like this restaurant was playing host to the BBC Young Butcher of the Year competition (no, I’m not kidding- it’s a real show).
I wasn’t all that hungry, so I didn’t mind ordering a starter for my veggie kicks. The Autumn Squash salad was delicious, beautifully presented, and left me with room for dessert (always a bonus), but wasn’t really what I was in the mood for. It was only at the end of the night after we’d polished off our steamed treacle pudding and drained the last drop from our macchiatos, that we noticed three tiny words printed on the back page of the menu: Vegetarian Menu Available.
I’ll just let that sink in for a minute.
Can you believe that? I’d certainly never seen it before- in London or anywhere else. Rather than upsetting me, the news that there had been an entire vegetarian menu available to me just made me laugh. When I awoke this morning, though, I knew I’d make getting some compromise-free, veggielicious food inside me top priority.
I’d been thinking about this dish of Spiced Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas ever since Sara posted it last month on her blog Sprouted Kitchen. Sweet potatoes always seem so exotic to me (as far as American things can be exotic to a Canadian), because I never had them growing up. Equally exotic is the idea of roasting chickpeas since I usually have them in curries or salads.
I simplified the flavours somewhat, opting to focus on the combination of ginger, lime, and Eastern spices. Served on a bed of spinach and drizzled with a sweet and tangy coriander dressing, the result was the perfect antidote to yesterday’s sleight.
Roasted and Spiced Chickpeas and Sweet Potatoes
- Chickpeas and Potatoes
- 1 cup soaked and simmered chickpeas (roughly equal to 1 x 400g can), rinsed and drained
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1/2″ cubes
- 1 tsp. ground coriander
- 3/4 tsp. cumin seeds
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
- zest of 1 lime
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- juice of 1/2 a lime
- 1 Tbs. honey
- 1/2 tsp. minced fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup finely chopped spring onions
- 2 Tbs. finely chopped coriander
- pinch of sea salt
- black pepper, to taste
several handfuls fresh spinach, rinsed and dried
- Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F. In a medium-sized bowl, combine the chickpeas and chopped potatoes with the coriander, cumin, sea salt, garlic, ginger and lime zest. Drizzle over the lime juice and olive oil and mix well to coat everything.
- Spread the mixture in to a rimmed baking sheet or shallow baking pan (if it’s on the small side, use two). Bake for 40 minutes, stirring halfway to ensure even browning.
- While the chickpeas and potatoes are roasting, prepare the dressing. Whisk together all ingredients in small bowl and set aside.
- When the chickpeas and potatoes come out of the oven, let them cool for ten minutes or so before proceeding- you want this to be warm, not hot. Serve over the spinach with the dressing drizzled on top, either individually or from a large platter.