Thursday, June 04, 2015

Pesto Vegetables, Chickpea and Cucumber Salad, Vegan Chive Cream Cheese on Poppy Bagel

I have been enjoying more and more getting my Kindergartener daughter involved with planning and sometimes helping to execute dinner. I made pesto last night, and was thinking of serving some vegetables today with the sauce mixed in. My daughter picked out vegetables today from the store that she wanted to have in the meal.

She and I have been thinking of having bagels for a few days now. At Whole Foods today, I picked up some new Kite Hill almond milk-based chive cream cheese, a new product I've heard good things about, and we bought bagels from Bruegger's. While we were out, I called my wife to start some chickpeas soaking, as I figured an Indian-style chickpea salad would be a good side dish tonight. Here is what I did:

  • 1 cup dry chickpeas
  • Ample boiling water (2-3 cups)
  • Enough water to just cover chickpeas
  • Medium cucumber cut into 3/8" cubes (I used half of the heirloom Poona kheera cucumber and half of a standard organic cucumber) - approximately 2 cups
  • 1t fresh lemon sage (or oregano; 1/3 t if dried)
  • 1/2 t (or to taste) salt
  • 1/4 t lemon pepper (or freshly ground pepper)
  • 1/2 t ground cumin
  • Small shallot finely (< 1/4") diced - approx. 2 T
  • 2t (or to taste) lime or lemon juice
  • 26 Brussels sprouts (1 pound packet) cut into halves (approximately 3 3/4 cups)
  • 2 medium carrots cut into 1/4" slices (1 1/2 cups)
  • 8 cremini mushrooms cut into thirds (approximately 1/2" thick slices) - about 2 cups
  • 2 cups broccoli crowns
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup snow peas (or 1/2 cup shelled peas)
  • 3/4 cup no-oil pesto (see yesterday's entry for recipe)

  1. I had my wife soak in boiling water the dried chickpeas; they had maybe 2 hours to soak.
  2. I rinsed the chickpeas and put them in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, along with enough water to just cover, and cooked for 32 minutes under high pressure.
  3. When the pressure cooker was done, I let it sit for a few minutes, slowly let out the remaining pressure, and carefully opened the pot.
  4. I ended up with about 2 1/2 cups of chickpeas (which is what a cup of dried should yield); I reserved a cup for the next few days, and mixed the 1 1/2 cups chickpeas with the cucumber, lemon sage, salt, lemon pepper, cumin, shallot, and lime juice.
Here is how I made the main course:
  1. I put the Brussels sprouts, carrot, mushrooms, broccoli, and 1/4 cup water in the Instant Pot and cooked on high pressure for 2 minutes.
  2. When I was ready to serve, I slowly let out the pressure and carefully opened the pressure cooker.
  3. I mixed in the peas and let it sit for a minute just to gently warm the peas and soften them a bit.
  4. I then added the pesto and served.
A poppy seed bagel half with the vegan cream cheese completed the meal.


Dinner was excellent - we all loved it. I'm so happy that I've found a tasty but low fat way to easily make pesto. The cream cheese was very good; I can't claim this is a no added fat meal, as the cream cheese has 6g of fat per ounce, or 1/8 of the tub. My wife had her bagel with pesto, but my daughter and I probably had 4 or 5g of fat from the cream cheese, still fairly low given the context of the rest of the meal. The chickpeas were very good, too.

Ideas for the future

This idea of mixing pesto with vegetables is a good one and I need to make other dishes in a similar style. Maybe one day soon I'll make a simple pesto pizza perhaps with grilled artichoke hearts. The pesto that I made last night came out a bit watery (maybe I should use 3/4 or even 1/2 as much water next time), but I think that brushing just a little on shouldn't make a good pizza crust soggy.

My Mom would serve tamarind (imlee) chutney with chickpea dishes like the one I made, and I wish that I had soaked some tamarind root to include. I wonder if some chickpea miso would go well with the salad.

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