getting out of my comfort {food} zone

i like to think that i have a pretty decent memory. i can remember lyrics to songs after only one listen, recall stories or just random tidbits of conversation from months ago, and just generally remember random facts that are of no use in my life.

because of this, i can distinctly remember when i started disliking {read: HATING, refusing to eat, etc} certain foods. most of these foods are vegetables, and most of the hatred started when i was a wee babe.

it was one day in preschool when cooked spinach was forced upon us, in an effort to get us to try new foods as 3 and 4 year olds. i’d probably had it before, but for some reason, the way they cooked and presented it to us kids, i took one bite and was immediately repulsed. i also remember screaming fits about squash, and especially asparagus. to this day, i refuse to eat asparagus. my parents always made me eat 3 bites of whatever vegetable it was, and by the third bite i was usually ready to vom. my hatred of squash included almost all orange vegetables, save for carrots, which i will eat dozens of because they are TASTY.

in general, i’m just a fruit person more than i am a vegetable person. sure, i like all the regular veggies: carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, cucumbers, and cauliflower, but i don’t really venture outside of these too much. i just find new ways to make them.

which is why it came as a shock to even myself that i found that this recipe tickled my fancy, and even more so that i was determined to make it the day after it was shared with me (thanks again, eliz!)

i randomly had all of the ingredients, which was perfect since in my house we’ve enacted operation-use-everything-in-the-pantry-and-freezer before we move. this recipe got a few random things out of the pantry, made quite a few servings/meals, and was SO TASTY to boot.

so when i was telling my parents about it during our weekly sunday call, i heard my mom shout, “she ate a sweet potato???”

yes, yes i did. and i gutted that thing like it was my very last meal.

wilting the greens

braisin'!!!

ta da! i CAN cook, when i put my mind to it

i ended up eating one half of the sweet potato and saved the other half for madeline to try. i also whipped up some TJ’s whole wheat couscous to have with it for lunch today, which was delicious as well.

mmmm tasty

i’m hoping this is the beginning of a very fun journey for me. living with two big foodies, i see them concoct lots of fun dishes, but usually never have the courage to try it for myself. BUT, if this new version of myself who willingly eats sweet potatoes and cooked spinach and runs hilly half marathons can do this, i can certainly expand my skills in the kitchen, right??

here’s the recipe if you’re too lazy to click over:

Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon
serves 4 as a main dish or 6 as a side

(as seen on the kitchn – i take NO credit!)

2 teaspoons oil or ghee
1 small yellow onion
4 large cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger, from a 3-inch piece
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1 large lemon, zested and juiced (about 2 tablespoons juice)
1 dried hot red pepper or dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
15-ounce can chickpeas, drained
1 pound baby spinach
14-ounce can coconut milk
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger

To serve:
Whole roasted sweet potatoes
Cilantro leaves, to garnish
Toasted unsweetened coconut, to garnish

Heat the oil or ghee in a large, deep Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to brown. Add the garlic, ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon zest and red pepper, if using. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the chickpeas and cook over high heat for a few minutes or until the chickpeas are beginning to turn golden and they are coated with the onion and garlic mixture.

Toss in the spinach, one handful at a time. This will take about 5 minutes; stir in a handful or two and wait for it to wilt down and make room in the pot before adding the next handful. When all the spinach has been stirred in, pour in the coconut milk and stir in the salt, ground ginger, and lemon juice. Bring to a simmer then turn down the heat and cook for 10 minutes or until the chickpeas are warm through. Taste and add more salt and lemon juice, if necessary.

Serve hot over roasted sweet potatoes, with cilantro leaves and toasted unsweetened coconut to garnish.

Serving note: This is thick enough to eat on its own with a fork; it’s not terribly soupy. But it’s saucy enough to eat over pasta, rice, brown rice, quinoa, or another grain. (note from my friend elizabeth – also delicious with parmesan or blue cheese sprinkled in)

p.s. if you’re a big fan of chickpeas like i am, i blogged about this pesto tomato chickpea soup i made, too.

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