Spiced Quinoa with Chickpeas and Roasted Zucchini and Sweet Potatoes

10.31.10 § 15 Comments

One thing I’ve been really proud of in my cooking of late is that I’m relying less and less on recipes. In the past, I very rarely strayed from a recipe, and I know that many other people cooking at home feel the same fear of improvisation. However, as I continue to develop my palate and learn my way around the kitchen, I find that tweaking what is written is often the best part, especially if it’s a dish you’re making for the second or third time.
The first time I heavily adapted a recipe, it was facilitated by my friend Rachel who was a bit ahead of me in the school of the improvisational kitchen. She found a recipe on Epicurious, read all the reviews, followed the advice of doubling the spices, and then decided on a whim that the dish should contain roasted sweet potatoes as well as zucchini. Okay, so I guess when I say that I heavily adapted my first recipe, what I mean is, I opened and measured the spices as Rachel dictated her adaptations. I may have also squeezed a lemon.
The final result was great. I think that if we’d made the dish to the recipe’s specifications, it probably wouldn’t have been one that we would have considered a keeper. But this one is definitely a keeper. Since then, I’ve made it again and again, and I usually can’t help myself from standing by the fridge, eating leftovers straight out of the tupperware container.
If you haven’t started experimenting in your kitchen, I highly suggest you do so. Reading other cooks’ reviews on sites like Epicurious is a good way to get your feet wet if you’re a little worried about going too crazy. Often there are great suggestions on how to adapt a dish.
As I said in my last post, I’m not an expert at pulling meals together from scratch, but I’ve found that by developing my improvisational cooking skills, I’m getting better all the time. It’s really cool when you realize that you’ve used a recipe for inspiration, rather than following it to the letter. But of course, I still do that to. Some recipes just don’t need tweaking.
Spiced Quinoa with Chickpeas and Roasted Zucchini and Sweet Potatoes
very generously adapted from Bon Appetit
1 15-oz can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
4 tsp cumin seeds
2 1/2 tsp turmeric, divided
2 1/2 tsp paprika (used smoked paprika if you have it, but if not, regular will work fine), divided
1 tsp chile powder
2 cups water
1 cup quinoa (about 6 ounces)
1 tsp coarse kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds medium zucchini (about 5), trimmed, cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
1 tbsp ground cumin
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

Combine garbanzo beans and lemon juice in large bowl. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil; press in garlic and stir to combine. Let marinate at least 30 minutes while you prepare the rest. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cumin seeds, 1 1/2 tsp turmeric, and 1 1/2 tsp paprika; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 2 cups of water, quinoa, and coarse salt; bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.

Meanwhile, place zucchini and sweet potato on rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with ground cumin, 1 tsp turmeric, 1 tsp paprika, and 1 tsp chile powder. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper and toss to coat evenly. Roast until tender enough to pierce with a fork, about 10 minutes. Add zucchini, sweet potatoes, green onions, and parsley, then garbanzo bean mixture to quinoa. Toss to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

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§ 15 Responses to Spiced Quinoa with Chickpeas and Roasted Zucchini and Sweet Potatoes

  • Sophia says:

    Hurray!! A vegan recipe! And if it didn’t sound delicious as is being seasonal, fresh, and full of healthy ingredients, it cooks in no time flat, leaving your electric and gas bills much lower. SCORE, Tyla! I’ll be making this tomorrow, thank you very much.

  • Gabby says:

    Perfect colors for fall and Halloween! Even more perfect: I believe have all the ingredients in my house! Maybe I’ll actually write a post soon too 🙂 I have lost my blog…

    • tyla says:

      I know missy, I just checked yesterday and restrained myself from sending you a “write a post” fb message…

      • Gabby says:

        maybe you should anyway, geez, this is bad…new goal this week: write at least one post, and I’ll use you as my motivator.

        wordpress even signed me out it’s been so long…yowza

  • Rachel says:

    Aww I’m so honored to get a shout out on the blog! That is still one my top go-to dishes! The only downside…yellow pans from all the cumin.

    Aaand, you inspired me to FINALLY write a blog post. I’m with you, Gabby–total blog fail. One per week. We can do it!

  • Sofia says:

    i love the fall colors! looks yum. i too am learning how to stray from recipes and find that it’s much less stressful than following everything by the book, literally.

  • Jen says:

    I always read the reviews on epicurious, too. Always good suggestions. And chickpeas have been rising higher on the chart for us as far as meals go–my husband formerly wouldn’t go near one unless it was in hummus now will eat a meal with chickpeas as the star protein (as long as it’s covered heavily in a sauce like curry or in a chili). We’re making progress!

  • allison says:

    my roommate and I just made this recipe because she bought cumin thinking it was cinnamon and we have been looking for a recipe with cumin for weeks. but this was absolutely amazing. we were sneaking over to the stove with our spoons so much that we decided to put away all the utensils. we will definitely be making this again! thanks tyla

  • mindy says:

    this looks like perfect lunch food! by which i mean, healthy, filling, one-bowl, keeps well, and doesn’t slosh around too much in a tupperware. all of which are v important factors when attempting to bring lunch to the office instead of spending $8 on an un-filling salad.

  • Marissa says:

    ummm, I’m making this immediately.

  • Gin says:

    This looks really good! And that’s saying something, since I’m currently the Queen of Nausea and No Appetite. I have a few Indian recipes filed away that you should really try.

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