I imagine if someone ever decided to conduct a scientific study into recipe reading habits, I would make a good subject. I’m sure that there are areas of my brain that light up when I come across certain words. If there was a graph of my brainwaves, there would be peaks whenever I register them, a conditioned response, and the words would most definitely include ‘chickpeas’, ‘honey’ and the combination of ‘sweet’ and ‘potato’. It’s probable that reading three of more of these words in one recipe title sets off some unconscious brain trigger that makes it impossible for me not to make said item.
So, yes, I couldn’t resist this. The first sentence of its introduction in the book is “Don’t be put of by what may seem like a carbohydrate overkill”. As if! I think I may also have a Pavlovian response to excessive carbohydrate, because I ate this with bread.
Chickpeas and spinach with honeyed sweet potato Serves 2-4
Despite referring to it as a vegetarian main course, the original recipe states that it serves 6-8, which is clearly madness. I’d say it serves two if that’s all there is, or 4 as a side dish.
200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked for about 1 hour (or use a standard 400g tin)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
100g baby spinach leaves (or use 200g frozen leaf spinach, defrosted)
10g coriander leaves, for garnish
salt and pepper
For the sweet potato:
500g sweet potatoes (about 2 medium-large)
50g unsalted butter
4 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
For the yoghurt sauce:
100g Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mint
Slice the sweet potatoes into 2.5cm pieces. You can peel them first, but I didn’t bother. Put them in a saucepan with the remaining sweet potato ingredients. Don’t worry if it seems like a lot of butter, as most of it will stay in the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed, though I found I had quite a lot left. You can add some into the tomato sauce if you like.
While the sweet potatoes are simmering, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato puree, cook for a minute, stirring, then add the tin of tomatoes, the ground cumin and the sugar. You may want to add half the sugar at first and taste – I think mine was a little too sweet with the full teaspoon. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes over a medium heat and then season to taste.
Stir the spinach and chickpeas (drained and rinsed if you used a tin) into the tomato sauce. Cook for a further 5 minutes and check the seasoning again.
Make the yoghurt sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients and seasoning with salt and pepper. Use as much olive oil as you think it needs – I didn’t go for the full 3 tbsp and I also held back on the lemon a bit.
To serve, spoon the warm chickpeas into a serving dish, arrange the sweet potato slices on top and garnish with the coriander leaves. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top or serve on the side. You may be able to spot my mistakes from the photo – sweet potato on the bottom and I left my yoghurt in the fridge and completely forgot to serve it at all. Don’t do this.
From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.