I tend to have issues with Thanksgiving, and not just because of the usual reasons of celebrating the destruction of indigenous culture that most socially-conscious people have. Frankly, I find it rather disturbing that we choose to celebrate "being thankful" for what we have by making gluttonous pigs of ourselves while there are people in our own neighborhoods who don't have enough to eat on a daily basis. Then there's the purely pragmatic issues - the fact that I basically have to cook my own meal in its entirety every year, and then figure out how to package it, transport it, and re-heat it at whatever location the annual family Thanksgiving dinner is taking place. It's time consuming, complicated, and kind of stresses me out. So I was actually pretty pleased when my family kind of bailed on me in favor of doing things with various in-laws and step-children that don't really include me. Instead of stressing about how the hell I'm going to manage packing a main course, stuffing, side dishes, and dessert into my car for an hour drive, I'll be spending my Thanksgiving with an Amy's cheeseless frozen pizza and a pint of Turtle Mountain soy ice cream. I'll still be making dessert (rum-spiked pumpkin pie) for a later-in-the-day meetup with my brother and sister-in-law though, so be on the lookout for that recipe soon :)
So on to the food....here's a nice, quick and easy main dish that you can whip up without much time or effort at all. Feed yourself with this on a night when you're freaking out about not having enough dinner rolls for guests or thinking about how much you're dreading back-handed comments from your in-laws...holidays are stressful; it's the perfect time for some easy, tasty food.
Chickpeas and Vegetables with Balsamic Sauce
Super quick and easy and really versatile - try it with whatever fresh veggies you have on hand. Add "crunchy" veggies like onion, carrots, snap peas, etc. when you'd add the broccoli, and add "softer" veggies like summer squash or leafy greens when you add the tomatoes. Get creative!
3 Tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 cup chopped broccoli
1/4 cup white wine or vegetable broth
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 teaspoon brown sugar
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon arrowroot or cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes until fragrant, being careful not to burn it. Crush the dried thyme in your fingers a bit and then add it to the skillet and cook 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms and increase the heat to medium. Cook the mushrooms for 4 minutes or until they begin to brown. Add the chopped broccoli and white wine/vegetable broth. Cook for 6-8 minutes - the broccoli should be bright green and tender, but not mushy. Add the cherry tomatoes and sprinkle everything with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for another minute more. Add the chickpeas and cook for another minute.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl or measuring cup, mix the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and arrowroot/cornstarch with a fork until the lumps are dissolved. Pour over vegetables in skillet and stir everything around to coat all the veggies and beans in the sauce. Raise heat to medium-high and continue to stir everything around until the sauce begins to gently simmer. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly. Taste for salt and pepper and serve.
Serve with a grain like brown rice, couscous or quinoa for a well-rounded meal.
Tips and Tricks:
1. If you're super pressed for time, or just really, really lazy, try using pre-sliced vegetables. You pay a bit more, but getting pre-sliced mushrooms and pre-chopped broccoli allows you to throw this together really fast because there's almost no prep time.
2. Three words: jarred minced garlic. Even if you're the type that relishes chopping your own veggies, get minced garlic in a jar to save you lots of time and stinky fingers. Make sure you get the kind in water (not oil); you can usually find it in the produce section. The flavor is just as good and it stays fresh in the refrigerator long after fresh garlic cloves would have gone moldy. When I use garlic in a recipe, 99% of the time it's from a jar. Substitute 1 teaspoon of the jarred stuff for 1 clove.
3. I'd recommend against using frozen broccoli for this because it'll come out mushy and the flavor won't be as good. This is a recipe where you really need to use fresh vegetables so that the flavor can shine with the balsamic.
Well, that's it for today then. Hopefully this meal will be at least one thing in your day that isn't stressing you out amidst all the holiday hubbub. And if you're disappointed that I don't have recipes for a huge feast posted, my apologies. I will have a pumpkin pie recipe posted next week, and I'll try to make it up to you at Christmas :)
And this Thursday, whether you're at a huge meal with lots of family, or happily noshing on frozen pizza and beer while snuggling with kitty cats, remember to be thankful for what you have....and more importantly who you have. Happy Thanksgiving with love from Lucy, Skye, and The Fur Ninja <3