Sunday, June 27, 2010

Cocido

This is really a 2-part cold weather dish, but I was cooking chickpeas and had a craving for it. If you search for cocido recipes on the Internet, you'll find many. It's a light noodle soup followed by sort of a Spanish stew in a broth of chickpeas, vegetables, and, authentically, different kinds of meat, and the images for it often look much like a prettily-arranged Japanese stew. The omni way takes all day to make, but the vegan version can come together much quicker and the actual work involved is minimal. For both versions, chickpeas are an important ingredient. Plus if you boil your own chickpeas from dried, it's a pleasingly economical way to use the broth right away. And the recipe is almost fat free!

My version is based on the one in The Vegetarian Epicure: Book 2, but I've adapted it quite heavily based on the vegetables I had, and I veganized the dumplings. This is the sort of recipe you can easily make for two, or for a small army, so I won't give exact amounts for the vegetables.

Start out by cooking chickpeas. I make a big batch but try not to have them finish up in a lot of water so the broth is flavourful. Drain the chickpeas, reserving the broth, and set the broth aside for now.

Prepare the vegetables—clean them, peel them as necessary, and cut them into large pieces. I was making a small amount, just for my supper with leftovers for a lunch. Most recipes call for cabbage, but I didn't have any so I substituted:

White onion
Potatoes
Carrots
Fennel
Brussels sprouts

Arrange them in a saucepan and add water almost to cover, plus a little salt. Bring to a boil and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Carefully drain them, adding the cooking water to the chickpea broth in another saucepan. Cover the vegetables so they'll stay hot and set aside.

Now make the broth by bringing the chickpea/vegetable broths to a boil and, if necessary, reducing the broth somewhat. Add salt and pepper to taste (I also added a little sherry). Finally, crumble in some dried vermicelli. Vermicelli nests are easy to crumble but any thin pasta will do, and let softly boil until the pasta is tender.

While the broth is cooking, put together the dumpling dough. This will serve 2 dumpling fiends, or probably 4 if each person just wants a few:

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp saffron threads or dash turmeric
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vegetable oil
water or non-dairy milk to bind

Mix the dry ingredients together, add the oil and blend until it's incorporated and the texture is grainy, then add water or non-dairy milk a little at a time until a tough dough forms. Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead it a few times, then break off teaspoon-sized pieces and roll into balls.

Now in a third saucepan (yes, you need three saucepans for this dish, sorry!), bring salted water to a boil and drop in the dumplings. They'll float to the surface right away. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes or so, until they're cooked through.

The genius part of this recipe is that you can enjoy the noodle soup as an appetizer while waiting for the dumplings to cook.

When the dumplings are ready, arrange the vegetables, chickpeas, dumplings and (optionally) some other kind of protein item such as chorizo-type seitan sausage or fried tofu neatly on a serving dish if you're cooking for many, or in a bowl if you're cooking for one, drizzle (optionally) with olive oil, and tuck in!

4 comments:

  1. This looks fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

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  2. This looks and sounds delicious...I'm going to have to try those dumplings for sure.

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  3. I confess to being a dumpling fiend. I don't make them often, but when I do it's an all-you-can-eat event. This looks like a good way to indulge!

    Isn't it great the way chickpeas make such an outstanding broth? It always surprises me.

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  4. Andrea, I confess that I ate all the dumplings! When you live alone there are simply no limits! And, for me, chickpeas are the ultimate bean, in any form. I love chickpea broth, and the idea of it was the inspiration behind this whole dish.

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