Spicy Vegan Southern Chickpea Stew with Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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vromans back

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I know I say a lot of my dishes are easy – but – if I say that is true.  And not just true for experienced cooks but easy for beginners & those in a hurry.  EASY.  This one is impossible to mess up – short of burning it or over-salting it.  Beyond that – really fucking easy.

Simple & easy-to-find ingredients.  You control the spice.  If I were to make this again – I would use maybe only half the can of tomatoes – but that is because I prefer the chickpeas to the tomatoes. Or – maybe I’d add a second can of chickpeas.  Whatever.  The point is – you can play with this & customize it to your tastes.   Better yet – the stew will be done before you rice is – that is how fast & easy this is.

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Spicy Vegan Southern Chickpea Stew with Rice

Serves 2 with rice


Cooked rice for 2

Olive oil

1 (14.5 oz) can of diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1 (15.5 oz) can chickpeas – drained

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced (optional)

1 red (or other color) bell pepper – seeded & chopped

1-3 cloves garlic – minced

2 tsp Cajun (or Creole) seasoning

1/2-1 tsp chipotle pepper (less if you don’t tolerate heat well)

Liquid Smoke (very optional)


Parsley – chopped as garish

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Cook the rice.

Meanwhile, heat a TBS or two of olive oil over high heat & cook the bell pepper & jalapeno until soft.

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Add the garlic & stir for one minute.  Add the chickpeas & tomatoes (maybe not all the can of tomatoes – if you like a less tomato-heavy stew.  These photos show an entire can) & spices.  If you are using liquid smoke – start with one or two drops & increase according to your taste for this stuff.  I find it goes from “barely noticeable” to “OmyGod – this whole dish is ruined” very quickly.  Too much liquid smoke is fucking nasty.  Trust.  So – go easy.

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Heat through & serve over rice garnished with parsley.

Told you it was fucking easy, didn’t I?


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Spicy Vegan Chicken and Mushroom Curry with Cauliflower and Chickpeas



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.


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vromans back

Well – once again – I took an extended break from the blog – because my mom was in town from Boston.  We spent the week eating & drinking in public.  See?  Here are some highlights (and a few pictures of my mom, me & my pal, David J. Wayne).  I will state where they were taken beneath the images.

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Spitz (Los Feliz)

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Robbie Mac’s

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PF Changs (Sherman Oaks Galleria)

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Silverlake Ramen House

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The Thirsty Crow

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La Poubelle

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Cheesecake Factory (The Americana)

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Sushi Stop (Hollywood)

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La Poubelle

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Oh my fucking God – the awesome TOSCANA!  Treat yourselves.  Seriously.

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La Poubelle

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Figaro Bistrot

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Chi Dynasty

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La Poubelle

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The 101.

OK – so – all that happened (and more) – but now I will move on to this delicious & easy curry!

I made this, as I so often do, from stuff I had around.  I have a freezer full of Beyond Meat’s amazing vegan chicken.  I also had a head of cauliflower & some mushrooms that were on their last legs & a can of garbanzo beans (chick peas).  If you do not have any of these or loathe one of them – 86’m.   I had this gorgeous-looking harissa stuff here (that I got at TJ Maxx – a great resource for exotic but cheap ingredients):

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and a can of lite coconut milk.  If you don’t have harissa – use sriracha or another hot sauce.  And feel free to use full-fat coconut milk, if that’s what floats your boat.

You could make this in a slow-cooker if you desired.  You could make it with real chicken.  It is a pretty forgiving recipe but it is delicious!!!!  And easy!

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Spicy Vegan Chicken and Mushroom Curry with Cauliflower and Chickpeas

Makes a lot – enough for 4 easy – maybe more


9 oz vegan chicken – thawed a bit & cut into cubes

1/2 lb mushrooms – sliced

1 onion – diced

1/2 head cauliflower – broken into small florets (optional)

1 (15 oz) can chickpeas – drained & rinsed (optional)

1 (13.5 oz) can coconut milk (I used lite)

2 TBS coconut oil (or olive oil)

6 oz tomato paste ( I used some leftover, homemade spicy red pasta sauce)

3 garlic cloves – minced

1 tsp ginger – minced

2-3 TBS mango chutney (or use an apricot preserve – if chutney is not available)

1 TBS harissa sauce (or sriracha or other hot sauce)

1 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp curry powder ( I used red curry powder but any will do)

2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp chili powder


Cilantro as garnish

Cornstarch (only if your curry is too thin)

Cooked rice

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This is not rocket science.  You would have to try pretty hard to fuck this up.  Short of burning it – I can’t really think of what one could do to ruin it.   The order things are added is a guide but little more.

Cook up some rice.  I used brown basmati.

Heat the coconut (or olive) oil in a large saute pan over high heat.  Saute the onions & mushrooms until soft – stirring frequently.  This should take about 5 minutes.

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Add the garlic & ginger & stir for about a minute.  Try not to burn the garlic.  Then – add the coconut milk & combine.

Then – you can pretty much just add everything else.  Lower heat to medium & simmer for a while.  If you wanted to – once you added the garlic & ginger – you could just dump everything into a slow cooker & let it cook there on high for a few hours or more.

Either way – it is done when the cauliflower is tender.

If the curry seems too thin, maybe whisk in a TBS of cornstarch.  Mine got too thick & I ended up adding a good cup or two of water.  I imagine you will be doing the water addition, too, but the thickness is up to your personal taste.

Season with S&P & maybe more chutney or hot sauce – depending on your palate.

Serve over rice & garnish with cilantro.  And there you go!  Easy, right?   🙂

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Vegan Pasta with Celery, Chickpeas, Lemon & Parsley


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.



If you read my blog with any regularity, you know two things.  One – that I wrote a novel that is getting great reviews on Amazon!  www.BathingBook.com



And two – that I think both celery & parsley get short shrift.  I think they are both bursting with fresh flavor & add a great deal to dishes in which they are used – but they are typically written off as garnish.  So – this dish is my homage to the two.  Easy & clean & fresh-tasting.  An easy dish that can be whipped together very quickly.

I added the dried lemon zest seen here –


because I had some left over from my Brussels Sprouts & Burrata Pizza with Pecorino & Dried Meyer Lemon Zest.


It is completely unnecessary.  Regular lemon zest is terrific, quicker & more flavorful.

I used a lot of crushed red pepper because, well, that’s just what I do.  I add lots of it to nearly everything.  I have found, however, that different brands (and ages) of the stuff can have wildly different levels of heat.  So – always start slow & add it incrementally.


Pasta with Celery, Lemon & Parsley

Serves 2


1/2 lb pasta of your choice

1 cup cooked chick peas – drained

1/4 cup or more Parsley – chopped – plus more for garnish

4 stalks celery – sliced diagonally (if the celery has leafy parts – you can chop these as garnish)

3 garlic cloves – chopped

1-3 tsp crushed red pepper – or to taste

1-2 TBS lemon zest

1 shallot – diced

Olive oil

S&P to taste







Cook your pasta according to directions & drain.

Meanwhile, boil another pot of water deep enough to hold the sliced stalks of celery.  Add a bit of salt & blanch the celery for a minute or two then drain, rinse under cold water & set aside.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan over med-high heat.  Add the shallots & cook until tender – a few minutes.  Add the chick peas & celery & maybe a pinch of chopped parsley & heat through.  Add the garlic & crushed red pepper & 1/4 cup or more of chopped parsley & saute another minute.



Add the pasta & stir to combine.  Add the lemon zest & season to taste with S&P.  Serve with additional parsley and, if you have them, the chopped leafy parts of the celery.  Season with a squeeze of lemon, if you like, or maybe some additional crushed red pepper.  And don’t be shy with the SALT (another villainized (sp?) ingredient) and pepper!  Eat it up & admit that parsley & celery are unsung heroes and promise to be nicer to them forevermore!

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Vegetarian Cannellini & Garbanzo Bean Faux Meatballs and Gluten Free Spaghetti



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.


All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.




vromans front

vromans back

Sometimes you just want simple comfort food.  For vegans & vegetarians – this used to be very challenging because so many of those meals are meat and/or dairy-based.  If you add gluten intolerance – things got pretty hairy.  Back in the day, anyway.

But, nowadays, there are vegetarian meats and vegan cheeses & gluten-free pastas & just about any dietary need can be tailored to by just knowing where to shop & how to substitute.  Look at this.


Ronzoni, people!  Making gluten-free pasta.  I got it Ralph’s.  Pretty mainstream.

Recently, a reader (or non-reader, as it seems) felt the need to inform me that vegans do not eat fish – because I used the word vegan in the heading of my Easiest Spicy Thai Coconut Salmon Soup for the Slow Cooker.


If they had bothered to read the post, they would have found that I suggested to my vegan readers that they sub out the salmon (and fish sauce) with extra vegetables.  Sometimes I think it is a waste of breath (or typed words) to suggest to a vegan how to modify a recipe to suit their needs as, I assume, most vegans are already pretty savvy about that.   Any mac & cheese recipe can be made vegan by just using vegan cheese.  Do I have to actually say “or vegan alternative” next to every non-vegan ingredient?  I look up traditional chicken dishes all the time – even though I do not eat chicken – and sub out the chicken with a seafood option or, in many cases, cauliflower (the most adaptable & wonderful veggie!).  I don’t get all hinky if I see chicken in the recipe.  I don’t EAT chicken but I am still allowed to acknowledge the word exists.   Still, I find that putting the words vegetarian or vegan or no carb or gluten-free in the heading of a post can often drive lots of traffic to it.  Why?  Because people are actively hunting for these things.  I’d hate for a vegan to miss my meatball recipe here just because it includes an egg.  I would assume that most vegans have met this hurdle before & have found a way around it – like these products HERE, for example.  Still – it seems lots of folks expressly use keywords like “vegan” in their searches and I’d like to show them some of my ideas – so I often add a parenthetical (vegan) to a heading.  And just so nobody thinks I am picking on vegans – conversely, do I really need to explain that my Chicago-style Veggie Hot Dog on a Gluten-free Cauliflower Tortilla 


could be made with BEEF hot dogs & traditional buns?  Well – criminy!  I hope not – but I bet the words “carnivore’s dream” would bring new eyes to that recipe.

“Hey, Christine.  Vegans don’t eat fish.”

411.  Let me make a note.

Moving on.

I wanted spaghetti & meatballs.  I made it.  With fake spaghetti & fake meatballs.  But – never fear meat eaters.  REAL meatballs could be used, too.

“Hey, Christine.  Cranky much?”


I would like to mention that the gluten-free pasta tasted pretty much like white pasta, especially with the sauce on it but the texture was just a bit more brittle.  I’d compare it to day old pasta that you re-heated.  It doesn’t twirl around your fork very easily (who cares?) and I’m not sure a true al dente can be achieved but if you are a gluten-intolerant carb whore – I don’t think these are major drawbacks.  I recommend this as a very reasonable alternative to wheat pasta.

The meatballs will never fool a carnivore that they are eating Bessie but, for a 25 year-long vegetarian – they do the trick pretty nicely.  But, I don’t think I need to tell anybody who has been vegetarian for very long that there are very few truly convincing meat substitutes.  Still – nobody mistakes diet soda for real soda but that hasn’t hurt Diet Coke much.  You just adapt.  Adapt your expectations.  And broaden your palate.  Use your imagination.

Vegan & the recipe calls for an egg?  Google it.  Here are the suggestions that PETA makes:

There are plenty of egg substitutes available for baking or preparing a dish that calls for eggs. Ener-G Egg Replacer is a reliable egg substitute for use in baking. It is available at health food stores and most grocery stores.

Tofu: Tofu is great for egg substitutions in recipes that call for a lot of eggs, like quiches or custards. To replace one egg in a recipe, purée 1/4 cup soft tofu. It is important to keep in mind that although tofu doesn’t fluff up like eggs, it does create a texture that is perfect for “eggy” dishes.

Tofu is also a great substitute for eggs in eggless egg salad and breakfast scrambles.

In Desserts and Sweet, Baked Goods: Try substituting one banana or 1/4 cup applesauce for each egg called for in a recipe for sweet, baked desserts. These will add some flavor to the recipe, so make sure bananas or apples are compatible with the other flavors in the dessert.

Other Egg Replacement Options

• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. potato starch
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup mashed potatoes
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup canned pumpkin or squash
• 1 egg = 1/4 cup puréed prunes
• 1 egg = 2 Tbsp. water + 1 Tbsp. oil + 2 tsp. baking powder
• 1 egg = 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed simmered in 3 Tbsp. water
• 1 egg white = 1 Tbsp. plain agar powder dissolved in 1 Tbsp. water, whipped, chilled, and whipped again

Egg Replacement Tips

• If a recipe calls for three or more eggs, it is important to choose a replacer that will perform the same function (i.e., binding or leavening).

• Trying to replicate airy baked goods that call for a lot of eggs, such as angel food cake, can be very difficult. Instead, look for a recipe with a similar taste but fewer eggs, which will be easier to replicate.

• When adding tofu to a recipe as an egg replacer, be sure to purée it first to avoid chunks in the finished product.

• Be sure to use plain tofu, not seasoned or baked, as a replacer.

• Powdered egg replacers cannot be used to create egg recipes such as scrambles or omelets. Tofu is the perfect substitute for eggs in these applications.

• If you want a lighter texture and you’re using fruit purées as an egg substitute, add an extra 1/2 tsp. baking powder. Fruit purées tend to make the final product denser than the original recipe.

• If you’re looking for an egg replacer that binds, try adding 2 to 3 Tbsp. of any of the following for each egg: tomato paste, potato starch, arrowroot powder, whole wheat flour, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, instant potato flakes, or 1/4 cup tofu puréed with 1 Tbsp. flour.

And PETA is just one resource.

Anyway – I digress.  The spaghetti used here can – wait for it…

be replaced with REGULAR pasta or whole wheat pasta or penne or farfalle.  But you knew that.  And the meatball recipe can be adapted to include whatever spices your grandma used to use or ones you see in any traditional meat ball recipe.  Being rigid & literal only works for bakers.  Most other cooking benefits from a looser interpretation & your own imagination.  Try it.  It is part of what makes cooking fun.

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Vegetarian Cannellini & Garbanzo Bean Faux Meatballs and Gluten-Free Spaghetti 

(makes about 30 small meatballs)


Pasta of your choice

Pasta sauce of your choice (my marinara is HERE & my 5-minute arrabiatta is HERE)

1 (15 ounce) can of cannellini beans

1 (15 ounce) can of garbanzo beans

1 onion – quartered

3 jalapenos – seeded (optional)

8 ounces mushrooms

4 garlic cloves

1/2 cup parsley – chopped

1 TBS dry oregano

1 egg (or vegan substitute <wink>)

1/2 cup breadcrumbs (more or less)

S&P to taste (at least 1/2 tsp each)

Garnish – grated cheese (or vegan alternative), chopped parsley and/or chopped basil

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Heat the oven to 350.  Grease a cooking sheet (cooking spray or olive oil).

Drain & rinse the two cans of beans.  Pulse in a food processor until mostly broken up.  Do not puree them.  Put them in a large mixing bowl & set aside.

Pulse the onion, jalapenos & garlic until chopped pretty fine.  Add to beans.

Pulse the mushrooms until chopped pretty fine.  Add to beans.

Add parsley, oregano, egg and breadcrumbs & mix it all up.  If it is too wet, add more breadcrumbs.  Add S&P.

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Create little meatballs (a bit smaller than a golf ball) in your palms & place on the cooking sheet.  I think I got about 32 meatballs this size.

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Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes & then carefully turn them & cook another 15-20 minutes.

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Heat your sauce.  Maybe heat some faux meatballs in there but be careful they do not fall apart.  Make your pasta.  Assemble.  Garnish.  Pour wine.  Devour food.  Scream out “VEGANS DO NOT EAT FISH!”  Feel self-righteous.

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Vegan Chana Masala or Chick Pea & Spinach Curry

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

I am posting this easy & delightful dish after the eggplant dish in case folks might actually feel ambitious & want to make an Indian feast with more than one flavor.  Both dishes are vegan – by chance, not design.  I have never seen a non-vegan version – so, if you are a die hard carnivore – do not be thrown by the word.  Both of these dishes seem deceptively rich despite being very, very healthy.



Chana Masala


29 oz can chick peas (or an equivalent of fresh soaked-overnight beans – if you are really motivated)

2 medium tomatoes – quartered

16 oz fresh spinach – chopped

1 in cube fresh ginger – chopped OR 3 TBS jarred crushed ginger

3 serrano chiles – seeded & roughly chopped

6 TBS olive oil

3 tsp cumin SEEDS – not ground

3 garlic cloves

2 TBS ground coriander

2 tsp turmeric

1 TBS crushed red pepper (or to taste)

2 tsp salt

1 TBS garam masala (if you can’t find it – you can make it:  http://allrecipes.com/recipe/easy-garam-masala/

15 oz can diced tomatoes (or 3 more fresh ones – chopped)


Drain & wash the chick peas.  In a blender or with an immersion mixer – puree the 2 medium tomatoes with the serranos and the ginger.

Heat the oil in a pan.  When hot – add the cumin SEEDS & beware the spitting & popping.  They hurt if they hit you. Add the garlic.  Saute for a minute then add the tomato puree and all the dry spices.  Cook this for about 5 minutes until the mixture reduces by 1/4 to 1/2.

Stir in the spinach – adding a little water if it is needed to properly steam the spinach down.  Cover & cook for 3-4 minutes or until the spinach is completely wilted but still vibrant.  Add the chick peas & the canned tomatoes (or chopped fresh) & stir them in.  You can add water if there isn’t enough gravy – or cook it down if it is too wet.  Cook this for another 5 minutes or so – longer if using dried chick peas.  Test a chick pea for texture & if it tastes done to you – you are good to go.

Serve over basmati rice.



2 cups basmati rice – rinsed several times in a colander

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp salt

20 green cardamom pods (if you can get them)


Heat the olive oil in a pan.  Once hot – add the cumin seeds & the cardamom pods – again being wary of their popping & spitting.  I used 20 cardamom pods because mine were a bit old.  You might want to use fewer if yours are fresh & really pungent.  After a minute – add the rice & stir until it is all covered in oil & the spices are well blended.  Add 4 cups of water (or whatever ratio of rice to water your package suggests) & bring to a boil.  Use less water for firmer rice.  Once boiling – reduce heat to low & simmer, covered, for however long the rice package instructs you.  Remove from heat.  Fluff with a fork.