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Following a month of eating mostly take-out and a trip to the Foodbuzz Festival (where I ate pretty much everything in sight) I’m excited to be back in the kitchen, cooking up healthy recipes.

Choosing the first meal to cook was a difficult task: I was sick of carbs, tired of cheese (yes, it’s possible!), and had my fill of meat. Soup seemed like the perfect solution, but Shawn was sick of that. I knew I was on to something when I spotted a can of chickpeas in the back of the cabinet — starchy, but not heavy like pasta, potatoes, or rice. It didn’t take long to figure out what I wanted to do with them. This chana saag was exactly the kind of meal that I was aching for: warm, creamy chickpeas coated in a fragrant spinach sauce provided enough protein and fiber to keep me satisfied without leaving me stuffed.

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I hadn’t made chana saag in years, and I had forgotten how easy it is! Start to finish, it will take you about a half hour and most of the ingredients involved are pantry staples, meaning this can be easily whipped up on a weeknight. A food processor makes pureeing the spinach sauce a breeze, but if you don’t have one it can also be made successfully in a blender.

Looking for a vegan meal? Substitute silken tofu for the yogurt! You can also leave it out entirely, but it does add a nice touch of creaminess to the sauce.

Looking for a meat-filled meal? I encourage you to give the chickpeas a try. But if you insist, you can substitute two chicken breasts for the chickpeas. Just adjust the final cooking time to ensure that they’re cooked through.

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Chana Saag (Chickpeas with Spinach)
Serves 4-6
375 calories, 9 grams fat, 13.5 grams fiber, 18 grams protein

16 ounces spinach
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1 cup water
1 Tbs olive oil
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp black peppercorns
1 onion, chopped
3 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 Tbs garam Masala or curry powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 dash salt
3 Tbs plain yogurt (fat free)
2 cans (32 ounces) chickpeas, drained

1. Set a large pan over medium heat. Add the spinach and cover. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the spinach has softened. Add the spinach, ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and water to a food processor or blender and process to a puree.

2. Heat the oil in your pan. Add the bay leaves and peppercorns. Cook for one minute, then add the onions and cook an additional 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently and breaking the tomatoes up with your spoon to help them form a sauce. Stir in the garam masala, chili powder, and salt.

3. Add the spinach puree and bring to a simmer. Stir in the yogurt.

4. Add the chickpeas and simmer for 10 minutes.

Serving suggestion: Drizzle with additional yogurt mixed with a pinch of chili powder. Serve with flat bread or rice.

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Do you have a great sausage recipe? Johnsonville is hosting an awesome recipe contest with $1,500 in prizes. The only catch is that your entry needs to be submitted by midnight TONIGHT. (Sorry for the short notice!) If you have a great sausage recipe, enter by clicking HERE. Good luck!