The second dish in my week-long series of WFPB recipes is one that I promised a few weeks ago when I showed you how I make my “Perfect” Bowl. Like that bowl, this Hearty Chickpea and Rice Stew takes my “A Grain, a Bean, a Veggie, a Green, and a Seed” concept very literally. Chickpeas, black rice, and broccoli are simmered in a creamy, savory, cashew-based broth, that turns all of these wholesome ingredients into the most comforting WFPB dish I’ve ever made.
As you know, I’ve been on a weight loss journey, and instead of telling myself what I can’t eat, I’ve made a list of items that I want to make sure that I get in every meal: whole grains, legumes, vegetables, greens, and whole-plant fats. I’ve “abbreviated” or short-handed this paradigm or checklist to “A Grain, A Bean, A Veggie, A Green, and A Seed”. It’s not perfect, but It’s helping me crowd out the foods I don’t want to eat with the foods that I do want to eat.
“A Grain, A Bean, A Veggie, A Green, and A Seed”
I came up with a paradigm, or a checklist, to help me plan my WFPB meals. The not-so-catchy name of which is “A Grain, A Bean, A Veggie, A Green, and A Seed”. Admittedly, the name needs work, but the practice of using it has been working great.
My goal is to plan meals that have each of these components:
- A “Grain” can be any type of whole grain or starchy vegetable that adds fiber and substance to your meals. For my purposes, a “grain” can be anything from whole wheat used to make bread, to brown rice, to even quinoa, and sweet potato.
- A “Bean” can be any type of bean, legume, or pulse. Although most plant-based foods do contain some amount of protein, a “bean” represents an overt source that is both fiber and protein dense. Ideally the “bean” is in its whole form, but tofu and bean pastas check this box as well.
- A “Veggie” can be any non-starchy vegetable that adds bulk, flavor, and nutrition to the dish. Think broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, radishes, and peppers. Although starchy veggies are great, in terms of their function in the meal, they tend to fit better into the “grain” box. Mushrooms are also a great addition to meals, and for what I’m trying to accomplish, mushrooms fit into the “veggie” box as well.
- A “Green” can be any type of leafy green, added to the dish either during or after cooking, or left raw. Not only are greens great for adding nutrition to the dish, they are also great for flavor and texture. Greens can be the bulk of a meal like in the case of kale salads, or an accent to the dish in the case of spinach or arugula added to soups and curries just before serving.
- A “Seed” represents a whole-food source of overt fat. Avocados, smashed, sliced, or guac’d are great. As are various types of nuts, seeds, and their derived butters. Coconut products like milk, flakes, and butter also add a ton of flavor and body to various dishes
Now that you know the system, let’s look at what foods in this dish check which boxes:
- The “Grain” – Black Pearl Rice from Lundberg is my current whole grain obsession. I love the texture and the lightly floral aroma. It’s incredible, and just happens to be higher in protein than many other varieties of rice.
- The “Bean” – For this soup meets a stew meets a casserole, it was important to have a hearty bean that could stand up to all of the elements. Chickpeas are perfect for this dish because they have the flavor, the texture, and the stamina. If you don’t have chickpeas on hand, any other type of white bean would work as well. I’ve never tried it with a black bean, but I’m sure that wouldn’t be too bad either.
- The “Veggie” – Like the chickpeas, I wanted to use a veggie that could stand up to the elements. Broccoli is great because it’s always available, it can be bought fresh or frozen, and it really does a great job of adding texture, flavor, and color to the dish. If you’re not a broccoli fan, you could always add chopped zucchini or just increase the carrots, peas, and corn.
- The “Green” – Within the past week, I’ve probably made this dish 3 times. Every other time, I’ve used kale because that’s what I had on hand. However, when filming I just happened to have arugula on hand from my CSA. Any green will work, however the more texture the greens have the better.
- The “Seed” – Not only do the raw cashews add a great texture to the soup, they also function as my source of whole-plant fat. If you wanted to avoid using nuts, or you wanted to reduces the caloric value of this dish, you could always use just blend about ¼ to ½ cup of white beans with the water instead. It will change the texture and flavor slightly, but you’ll still have a creamy, comforting dish.
- Onion, carrot, celery – The start of so many savory dishes…. If you ‘re not a fan of one of them, leave it out. If you’re big fan of all three, then add more.
- “No Chicken” flavored Better Than Bouillon – This is my favorite vegan “chicken” bouillon. There are other vegan bouillons on the market that you could use instead, or you could just use your favorite veggie broth in place of the water and bouillon.
- Dried tarragon – This spice has a slight anise flavor, but in this dish, it really drives home that “pot pie” flavor. If you don’t have it on hand, or you’re not a fan, you could always just use your favorite blend savory of herbs and spices instead.
- Nutritional yeast – Normally used to give a “cheesy” flavor to vegan foods, I like to use nutritional yeast in creamy dishes because it increases the umami and richness of the dish. If you’re not a fan, or you don’t have it, just leave it out.
- Frozen corn and peas – I don’t think I ever buy the non-frozen versions of these vegetables. Really any frozen (or fresh) veggie will work, though. Fresh need to go in at the beginning. Frozen need to go in at the very end. I like the corn and peas because, again, they give it that “pot pie” vibe.
- Lemon juice – Added at the very end, a bit of acidity really lifts this dish up. When cooking with a lot of rich flavors and umami, it’s nice to have something bright to elevate the flavors. If you don’t have lemon, a dash of white wine or balsamic vinegar will do the trick.
- Cooked mushrooms (optional) – I had some caramelized oyster mushrooms left-over from my Indian-Spiced Split Pea dish, so I decided to add them to this soup at the last minute. Honestly, they did so much that I wish I had planned them as part of the original recipe. You could really use any type of mushroom instead, just make sure to get them nice and deeply browned before adding them to this soup at the very end.
Hearty Chickpea and Rice Stew
A rich, creamy, and comforting WFPB dish that's as satisfying as it is delicious.
- 2 cups water or veggie broth
- 2 to 3 tablespoons raw cashews or cashew pieces
- ¼ cup onion, diced
- 1 small carrot, thinly sliced
- ¼ cup celery, thinly sliced
- 2 teaspoons “No Chicken” flavored Better Than Bouillon or enough bouillon to make 2 cups of broth
- ½ teaspoon dried tarragon
- pinch red pepper flake
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 cup cooked black pearl rice or brown rice
- 1 cup cooked and drained chickpeas
- 1 cup raw broccoli, cut into small pieces
- 1 cup arugula or kale, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup frozen corn, thawed
- ¼ cup frozen peas, thawed
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- ½ lemon, juiced
- 1/2 cup cooked mushrooms (optional)
- In a high speed blender or NutriBullet, blend cashews and water. The mixture will be very thin, but it will thicken once it cooks. Set aside.
To a saucepan or pot on medium heat, add onions, celery, and carrots. Sauté with a bit of oil or water for a couple of minutes, just until they Strat to get tender. Pour in the cashew and water mixture, and stir continuously until it starts to simmer. Add bouillon, tarragon, red pepper flake, and nutritional yeast.
- Add cooked rice, chickpeas, and raw broccoli. (If using frozen broccoli, thaw it completely, and then add it at the very end). Simmer, stirring often, until the broccoli is tender but not overcooked. Stir in thawed corn and peas, and the chopped arugula. Continue to cook just long enough for the corn and peas to be warmed through, and for the arugula to wilt. Taste for seasoning.
- If adding mushrooms, add the cooked and caramelized mushrooms with the corn, peas, and greens.
- Serve immediately.