Many omnivores harbor the mistaken impression that vegetarian food is boring, that it’s lacking in flavor. I think I understand why. Way back in 1978, when first I stopped eating meat, I do remember craving heavier flavors. My tastebuds were used accustomed to heavier flavors. Back then I made a lot of omelets, ate lots of pizza and in general felt attracted to bolder flavors. The further I drifted from eating heavy meats, my tastebuds became more sensitive to subtler flavors.
While most of what I eat these days is simple and subtle, I do enjoy a robust meal from time to time. And when I cook for others, especially for people who are used to heavier flavors, I like to offer foods with a kick. That’s why I recently picked up Celine Steen’s Bold-Flavored Vegan Cooking.
Since I have lots of kale in my back yard, I was first drawn to a meal that featured kale. I always like piquant nut-butter-based sauces, so this recipe really appealed to me. With some roasted yams, it made a satisfying meal for two with another smaller meal left over.
Meatless Monday: Smoky Kale with Chickpeas and Miso-Peanut Drizzle
- ⅓ cup (85 g) natural peanut butter
- 1 tbsp (18 g) red miso, more if needed
- Juice from 1 lemon (2 tbsp [30 ml])
- 2 tsp (10 ml) toasted sesame oil
- 2 tsp (13 g) agave nectar or brown
- rice syrup
- 2 ½ tbsp (15 g) chopped scallions
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) brown rice vinegar
- or seasoned rice vinegar
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) water, more if needed
- 2 tsp (10 ml) sesame oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 ½ cups (256 g) cooked chickpeas
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced (to taste)
- ½ tsp smoked sea salt
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp chipotle powder
- 1 large bunch kale (about 14 oz [397 g]), ribs removed, washed and chopped
- To make the drizzle, place the peanut butter, miso, lemon juice, sesame oil, agave, scallions, garlic, vinegar and water in a blender. Blend until perfectly smooth. Adjust the miso to taste, and add more water if needed to get a thick yet pourable dressing. Set aside while preparing the rest of the dish. I like to use a squeeze bottle to serve the drizzle; it makes for a prettier presentation.
- To make the kale and ’peas, place the sesame oil, onion, chickpeas, garlic, salt, paprika and chipotle powder in a large skillet. Heat on medium-high and stir-fry until the onion is golden brown and fragrant, about 4 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent scorching. Add the kale and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Serve with potatoes on the side, and drizzle peanut sauce on top. If there are sauce leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It tastes great on tofu bowls, baked potatoes and roasted vegetables.
Optional: If you want to serve this with roasted yams, here’s how:
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Chop a medium-to-large yam into 1/2-inch cubes.
- Toss in a mixing bowl with a tablespoon of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
- Roast for 25-30 minutes until done.
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