Since the fall semester started, I’ve adopted a new cooking strategy: Do a lot of cooking on the weekends, using the leftovers as on-the-go lunches throughout the week, and stick with easy super salads for my dinners. So far, this has been working great! It really helps me manage my time throughout the week, and lets me try out exciting new recipes (or revisit old favorites) on the weekend when I have more time. And so I’m here today to share with you one of the excellent culinary concoctions that emerged from this weekend’s marathon kitchen session.
I took as my starting point this recipe for Moroccan Roasted Carrot and Chickpea Quinoa Salad from Closet Cooking, which Caitlin and I actually made a while ago once and really enjoyed. It’s enhanced by this wonderful Moroccan spice blend (also included on the same recipe page), which finds its way into basically every part of the dish. And as I still had a lot of this spice blend leftover from the last time we made it, I thought that now was a good time to revisit this recipe and put a few new twists on it.
My general idea was to combine the basics of this recipe with pieces from another similar recipe which I absolutely adore, Veganomicon’s Israeli Couscous with Pistachios and Figs, featured once previously on this blog here (which was additionally convenient, as I still had several parts of this recipe leftover from the last time I made it a couple of weeks ago). Here’s a close up of my finished product—can you spot all the differences?
Okay, I don’t really expect you to be able to spot all the differences all on your own, so here’s a quick run-down. First, along with quinoa, as Closet Cooking’s original recipe calls for, I added in some Israeli couscous and regular couscous as well, which created an amazing grain combination. And along with the originally called for pine nuts, I threw in a big handful of pistachios, which added both extra flavor and color. And instead of raisins, I used figs, which was a wonderful idea. But my best idea for this recipe was definitely my chosen replacement for chickpeas: beets! Now, beets may not seem like the most logical substitute for something like chickpeas, but I think they actually worked much better alongside the roasted carrots (I roasted the beets as well). With the addition of some lime juice and zest, this hodgepodge grain salad was completed, and quite amazingly delicious. Here’s one more shot:
What surprised me most about this recipe, and what I liked most about it, was how much of a spicy kick it had. (I think I had forgotten how much paprika and cayenne pepper went into the spice blend.) But at the same time, the spiciness was not overwhelming; it was really the perfect amount. In addition, I am proud to say that this is definitely one of the most colorful dishes I’ve ever made, and really a pleasure to look at. But the real pleasure is in the eating, and if you want to experience that, you’ll have to make it for yourself!
But before I leave you today, I wanted to share with you the special baked good I made this weekend for my friend’s potluck dinner party: an absolutely delectable “Can’t Be Beet” Chocolate Cake with Almond Butter Banana Frosting!
Caitlin has made this recipe from Fat Free Vegan for me before, and I really have to say that it’s one of the best vegan cake recipes I’ve tasted. The frosting is (literally, I have to admit) finger-licking good, and the cake really lives it up to its name: it is both incredibly scrumptious (“it can’t be beat!”) and made with one large, yet undetectable, beet (“it can’t be beet!”). If you’re looking for a good time, make this cake for your next dinner party, and try to get the other guests to guess the secret ingredient. If your friends are anything like mine, they will run through the gamut of vegetables and other food items before hitting on the correct answer. Happy eating!
Until we eat again,