The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

February 21, 2012

Bittman’s Vegan Spinach and Chickpeas — Prepared Plastic-free

This post is Part 2 of 10: Preparing Mark Bittman’s ten Recipes for the Semi-Vegan without plastic. Back in January, I posted the first delicious dish: Saffron-and-Mushroom Barley Risotto, which was out of this world yummy and creamy. Next up:

Recipe #2: Spinach and Chickpeas

If risotto takes a long time to prepare, chickpeas take even longer. The difference is that with chickpeas, most of the work happens while you’re asleep. Soak dried chickpeas in a bowl of water overnight.  As Katie from Kitchen Stewardship recommends in The Everything Beans Book, the longer you soak beans, the more easily digestible they are.

soaking dried chickpeas

Once they are soaked, empty the water, and cook them on the stove for an hour or so until they are tender.

I like to make big batches of chickpeas and store them in mason jars in the freezer because they are so handy to have available and can be added to so many dishes. Those of you who are new to this blog may be wondering why I don’t just use canned beans and skip the extra work. I don’t buy any foods in cans anymore because almost all cans are lined with plastic which contains BPA. And the few brands that have moved away from BPA (Eden Organic beans, for example), have replaced the liner with some other resin that, to my mind, has not been tested long enough for me to be sure that it’s a safe alternative.

Recipe Ingredients:

Mark Bittman's spinach and chickpeas

  • Chickpeas from bulk bin at Whole Foods or Berkeley Bowl, prepared in advance and frozen in glass mason jar.
  • Loose baby spinach from the Market Hall produce market.  Purchased in my own ChicoBag Produce Stand bag.
  • Bread crumbs, which I made from dried pieces of bread I had stored in my bread box.  Some of the bread came from ends of loaves.  Some of it was leftover from restaurant meals.  There were even a couple of pitas in there from a Mediterranean restaurant.  [Note: I buy all my bread either naked from local bakeries or in paper in a pinch.]  I put the dried bread in the food processor to make crumbs and then toasted it in the oven a bit.
  • Pimentón (smoked paprika)  I did not have this ingredient, so I used regular paprika from bulk spice aisle at Whole Foods. I take my glass bottle back to refill.
  • Cumin from bulk spice aisle at Whole Foods. I take my glass bottle back to refill.
  • Garlic from farmers market.
  • Sherry vinegar.  I didn’t have sherry vinegar and was not going to buy it for this recipe.  I planned to use balsamic vinegar (shown in photo above) but at the last minute decided to use lemon juice (from fresh cut lemon) instead.
  • Olive oil purchased in bulk in our own refillable bottle from Market Hall pasta shop.

Putting it all together

For copyright reasons, you’ll have to read Mark Bittman’s recipe for the exact cooking instructions. I’ll just say that once you have all the ingredients together, cooking them up in a stainless steel skillet is easy and fast. Here’s the end result, which was delicious.

Mark Bittman's spinach and chickpeas

The next Bittman recipe I’m going to make–Sweet Potato Stew–is more difficult because of one ingredient in particular. Can you guess which one?

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11 years ago

Chick peas are great to make in a slow cooker. Dump as many as you’d like in there, cover with water to abt 3 in above the beans and put on low 6-8 hrs.

Eve Stavros
11 years ago

Kate – Really intrigued to know how to make coconut milk in my French press. Can you please share your process? Thanks!

11 years ago

Do you have a french press? Because I make coconut milk in mine all the time. It’s really easy.

11 years ago

I like the outcome of your recipe. I am impressed with the presentation and it looks really delicious. It sounds extremely healthy as well. I can’t wait to give it a try.

Julie Andrea
11 years ago

Oh dear .. I had no idea about the coconuts and mold. ick I remember being at a co-workers home, she was from Trinidad, and being offered a coconut .. with a spoon! The insides were soft, like jelly! They would bring back to Canada fresh coconuts in their luggage. Apples went down, fish and coconuts came back. lol

Keep up the great work with the blog and sharing your plastic-free adventures with us. Julie Andrea

11 years ago

this sounds soo good. thanks for sharing!!

Sharyn Dimmick
11 years ago

Eve’s comment makes me sad: I love fresh coconut and have eaten it all my life. I assume they ship them here quickly from Mexico or Hawaii. I have made coconut milk from both fresh and dried coconut. They are both good: using fresh coconut tastes better; using dried is easier and faster.

Eve Stavros
11 years ago

Yikes! A quick follow-up to the coconut milk, as I was researching recipes just now. Once again, when you start to research, you learn some pretty scary/disturbing stuff. This is from Tropical Traditions, a family-owned business selling organic, ethical and healthy tropical oils/products: “Since most people reading this probably do not live in tropical places where you have access to fresh coconuts, the best way to make fresh coconut milk is from a high quality organic dried coconut that is not treated with sulfites and is not sweetened. If you live in a non-tropical climate and see fresh coconuts in your local grocery store, its a good bet that they have already started to mold as fresh coconuts have a very short shelf life. They start molding within a couple of days. Some coconuts that are imported to the U.S. are apparently IRRADIATED (caps are mine) to prevent them from spoiling.”

Eve Stavros
11 years ago

Love spinach and love garbanzos, so I’m glad to hear this turned out so good. I’ll give it a try! And I’m anxious to hear how the coconut milk experiments turn out, since I use a LOT of coconut milk in my cooking (addicted to Indian flavors…). Today’s the day I try plastic-free homemade tomato paste myself, thanks to 7 lbs of Roma tomatoes on sale. I’ve been missing tomato paste, since I haven’t been able to find the Bionaturae brand you mentioned on the blog ages ago.

11 years ago

If it’s the coconut milk, there are a bunch of recipes for coconut milk from fresh coconut or unsweetened dessicated coconut online. Good luck!

11 years ago

I never had much luck turning dried garbanzos into anything edible until I got up the nerve to try out my mother’s old pressure cooker (updated with a new gasket, for safety.) It has changed my bean-eating life! What used to take hours to cook can now be prepped, cooked, and ready to go in under an hour. I’ve replaced canned beans with dried ones and use much less electricity. Is there any down-side to pressure cooking that you know of?