Healthy Cooking Thursday – Chickpea and Sausage Sauté

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Being a tree-hugging Vermont chef means that I like to get my food directly from local farmers whenever I can. Luckily the breakfast cook at our healthy weight loss spa, Millicent, has a wonderful farm tucked into the rolling hills where she raises laying and meat chickens, heirloom turkeys, dairy and meat cattle, and pigs. But when purchasing meat directly from a small farm, you need to have room in the freezer. The dwindling half a pig in mine is testimony to that fact.

There’s good reason we like to buy that much pork: it helps my family to eat more legumes. I know that may seem like strange logic, but consider for a moment how much better a lentil soup is with a hock simmering in it, how lovely black beans and rice can be with the addition of a little diced ham, or what a great prize it is to find the bacon in a batch of baked beans. Besides, nutritionally, legumes need a boost in the fat and protein areas to be more satisfying. The flavor certainly doesn’t hurt, either!

The recipe below is based on one of my hubby’s go-to dinner ideas. If you’re not a pork fan, simply use a poultry sausage instead, or avoid meats altogether and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

Chickpea and Sausage SautéServes 2

about 2 ounces of sausage

1 cup kale, julienned

1 pepper, diced (I use red, yellow or orange for a color burst)

half a medium onion, sliced

two cloves of garlic, minced

¼ tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

¼ tsp dried oregano

¼ tsp dried basil

1 14 ounce can of chickpeas, rinsed very well

3 T tomato paste

1/3 cup wine or water or a combination of the two

black pepper to taste

Remove the sausage from casing if necessary. In a four quart or bigger pot, brown the sausage crumbles, stirring occasionally. Remove excess oil from the pan if necessary.

Add the peppers, onion, and kale; stir occasionally to ensure even cooking. When the onion is becoming translucent, add the garlic.

After 30 seconds, add the red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil; stir constantly for another 30 seconds. Add the chickpeas. Stir in the tomato paste and water and/or wine.  Simmer until the liquid cooks nearly all the way out.

Garnish with black pepper and salt if necessary and serve over your favorite grain or pasta (orzo is pictured).

What is your favorite marriage of pork and legumes?

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