Sunday, March 19, 2017

Chickpeas with "Cheese" Sauce, Mixed Salad

My daughter had a young friend over to join us for dinner tonight. I had soaked some chickpeas last night, wanting to make a chickpea main course. I decided that it's been too long since I've made and used a "cheese" sauce, such as I described in July 2011 with an Alfredo sauce or the Food for Life sauce that I made, for example, in January 2015 and April 2014.

I decided to make a simple cheesy chickpea dish. Here is what I did.

  • 2 cups chickpeas, rinsed and soaked overnight, then rinsed again
  • Enough water to just cover chickpeas
  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked for 30m (or more) in water
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • Juice of small lime (I actually used a half lime, and it was fine)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 - 1 T nutritional yeast
  • Dash of salt
  • (optional garnish) Scallion
  1. I cooked the chickpeas, covering with water, in my Instant Pot pressure cooker for 25m.
  2. I could have waited a short while, then gently released remaining pressure and opened the Instant Pot, but I planned ahead and had the chickpeas done earlier so, when I was ready, I just opened the pot.
  3. In the meantime, I made my cashew cheese sauce. I did as I described in 2011, as below, and served a tablespoonful or so atop the chickpeas.
For the sauce, I pretty much followed the recipe that I found. I took a cup of raw cashews and soaked them for 15m (the recipe suggested 30m). I drained and put the soaked cashews into our VitaMix blender, along with a garlic clove, juice of a small lime, half a cup of water, a half tablespoon or so of nutritional yeast, and a dash of salt. I blended on high for maybe 15 seconds till nice and creamy - and that was it! The sauce tasted surprisingly rich and tasty.

I also made a salad with chopped tomato, olive, scallion, and dill pickle, along with some lime juice, salt, and black pepper. We had some crusty bread and my wife had suggested a bread salad, but our dinner guest was gluten-free, so I didn't add bread cubes.


Dinner was good! All of us enjoyed the meal. I don't use a "cheese" sauce often but, when I do, it's always nice.

I was going to describe this dish as "almost no added fat". Cashews have 12g of fat per ounce; in the Food for Life program that I teach, we recommend 10% fat calories, or, as a rough guide, about 3g of fat per serving of a dish. We used up only about 50-60% of the sauce, and that spread among the four diners. One cup is eight ounces, so each serving then had about 50% of (12g of fat/ounce x 8 ounces/cup / 4 servings) = 50% of 24 g of fat/serving, or about 12g of fat. That's not insignificant, so I'll omit the description.

Ideas for the future

I could make this an "almost no added fat" dinner by being very modest with the sauce. However, the fat isn't excessive and I think the quantity of sauce I used balanced the chickpeas well. If I didn't rely on the one-ingredient base and had other ingredients, such as perhaps raw bell pepper chunks, peas, carrots, and/or zucchini, I bet less "cheese" would be just fine.

Beyond the fat issue, the main course would have been more interesting with additional ingredients. I was planning on mixing in some chopped kale, but our visitor tonight doesn't like kale and I didn't have any other greens.

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