Welcome to Don’t Shoot the Food, a semi-regular series where I combine my love of gaming with my love of cooking and eating.
In honor of Pokemon Black and White, I’m going full on vegetarian for this week’s Don’t Shoot the Food. After all, Pokemon are animals, animals are our friends and we don’t eat our friends. Having our friends beat on each other to the point of unconsciousness is another matter entirely. Don’t Shoot the Food, I choose you!
Despite my status as an avowed carnivore my family isn’t too big on meat. Oh sure, my wife loves a good cheeseburger and knows the road to heaven is paved with my smoked meatloaf but she would prefer to think that cheeseburgers grew on trees and meat was a root vegetable. My daughter doesn’t eat at all (long story) and my son is iffy on meat in general. As a result, I learned how to cook vegetarian pretty quickly, not as a lifestyle choice but as a “get everyone to eat something” choice. Enter the chickpea. The chickpea is, in short, the carnivore’s best friend. It tastes great, is extremely versatile and actually fills you up with delicious protein. It’s also the main ingredient of hummus which I could eat by the truckload.
So, when I started thinking of a good, vegetarian recipe for this week’s column, my mind turned to chickpeas and then immediately rested on one of the favorite meals at my house, Chickpea Corn Patties. I got this recipe from Cooking Light years and years ago and it is one damn fine dish. Cooking Light usually does a very good job at lightening dishes in a way that doesn’t make them seem like they’ve been lightened, but the joy of this recipe is that nothing has to be taken away to make it healthy. It’s all good from the start. For our vegan friends, you can make this without any substitutions, so that’s good too. If you’re not a fan of chickpeas, stick around because dessert is going to blow your mind.
Chickpea Corn Patties – courtesy of Cooking Light
You’ll need either a food processor or a potato masher for this one, so be sure to get either one before diving in. Preparation is key! You’ll need a food processor for dessert, so you might as well go out and buy one. Go on!
1. 2 tsp olive oil, divided
2. 1 1/2 cups corn kernels – the recipe calls for fresh but I use frozen all of the time, just make sure to thaw them out under some running water first and drain well. If you want to go the fresh route, you’re looking at about three ears.
3. 1 cup chopped onion – again, save yourself some time and go with the frozen stuff. I always do.
4. 1 tsp minced fresh or 1/4 tsp dried thyme
5. 1 (19-ounce) can chickpeas drained and rinsed – I have never, in all of my travels, come across a 19 ounce can of chickpeas. Around here they’re all 15 – 16 ounces. If you’re in the same boat, you can either buy two cans and use part of the second can, or just use one 15 – 16 oz can. I’ve done both and both are fine.
6. 1/2 cup breadcrumbs – make your own or use the stuff from the cardboard can thingy. I do the latter.
7. 3 tablespoons cornmeal, divided – if you’re buying cornmeal especially for this recipe, get the fine stuff as you’ll need it for dessert. Otherwise, use whatever you have on hand.
8. 1/2 teaspoon salt
9. 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper – I use cayenne but you can use whatever strikes your fancy.
10. Cooking spray
1. Heat one tsp of the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn, onion and thyme and saute for two minutes.
2. Grab a large bowl and mix together the corn-onion mixture, chickpeas, breadcrumbs, two tablespoons of the cornmeal, the salt and the red pepper. Mix it all up well.
3. If you have a food processor, transfer the mixture to the food processor and pulse the food processor two to three times or until the mixture is mixed up and chunky. You want to see chunks of chickpeas but it needs to be chopped up enough to hold a patty shape. I usually have to do it in a couple of batches as my food processor is on the smaller side. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a potato masher.
4. Divide the mixture into eight equally sized balls and press the balls into 1/2 inch thick patties.
5. Put the remaining cornmeal on a plate or flat bowl and dredge the patties in the corn meal.
6. Heat the remaining oil in your large skillet, again over medium-high heat. Cook the patties for five minutes, flip and cook for another five minutes or until they’re golden.
The great thing about these patties is you can serve them up with whatever condiments you like. We do salsa and sour cream but you could do BBQ sauce, or guacamole or jalapeno slices, or whatever. It’s your meal so go crazy. Just make sure to save room for dessert cause I am officially bringing it.
When it comes to dessert, I am firmly in the pie camp. I used to be in the cake camp until I ate the pie I am about to share with you. It is, hands down, the best pie I have ever eaten and if I could only ever eat one pie again, this would be it. I got if from a book of pie recipes entitled “Pie” by Ken Haedrich. If you’re a pie nut, I can’t recommend this book enough as it is filled with amazing pie recipes, the best of which is this one. Enough teasing, let’s get baking.
Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie with Cornmeal Crumb Topping
I know, I know, you’re wondering why I’m dropping a strawberry pie recipe in March and I understand your trepidation but March is peak strawberry season in Florida so those little red beauties are out there just waiting for you to bake ’em up. This pie is like eating a slice of summer, with the sweetness of the strawberries playing off of the tartness of the rhubarb and a satisfying buttery crunch to the cornmeal topping. Just the thing to remind us that summer is right around the corner.
1. 1 pie crust for 9.5 inch pan, refrigerated – I use Pillsbury crusts. Make your own if you want, I don’t care. Personally, I want to bake pies, not pie crusts, so the pre-made ones work just fine for me.
1. 3 cups rhubarb stalks, sliced into 1/2 inch pieces – get fresh if you can, but I have used frozen. If you use frozen, you’ll have to adjust your cooking time to account for the cold.
2. 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3. 1 1/2 tbls fresh lemon juice – don’t use bottled stuff. Just don’t.
4. grated zest of one lemon
5. 4 cups hulled and halved fresh strawberries – quarter them if they’re massive and don’t eat them while you’re working lest you run out.
6. 1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
Cornmeal crumb topping
1. 3/4 cup all purpose flour
2. 1/4 cup fine yellow cornmeal
3. 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
4. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
5. 1/4 tsp salt
6. 1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1. Preheat the oven to 400 and organize the racks so that you have a rack dead center.
2. Tuck the pie crust into a 9.5 inch pan and form the edge into an upstanding ridge. Place the crust in the freezer for 15 minutes.
3. While the crust is getting its freeze on, combine the rhubarb, sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large bowl, mixing well. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
4. Once the ten minutes are up, add the strawberries and tapioca to the bowl and mix well. Once mixed, pour everything into the chilled pie crust and smooth the surface with your hands. Move the fruit around as you need to.
5. Place the pie in the oven, on the center rack, noting which side is facing the back and bake the pie for 30 minutes.
6. While the pie is baking, mix all of the dry crumb ingredients (everything but the butter) in a food processor and pulse until everything is well mixed. Sprinkle the butter pieces atop the dry mix and pulse until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Empty the whole thing into a bowl and make bigger crumbs with your fingers. Place the crumbs in the refrigerator until you need them.
7. Once the pie has baked for 30 minutes, remove it from the oven and lower the temperature to 375.
8. Carefully place the crumbs all over the top of the pie, pressing down gently with your hands and tucking the crumbs into all of the gaps made by the fruit. Put the pie back in the oven, this time turning around so the part that faced the back of the oven before now faces the front. During this next part the pie is going to get mad bubbly so either put some aluminum foil at the bottom of the oven or place a cookie sheet on a rack under the pie. Continue to bake until the juices bubble, 30 – 40 minutes. Keep an eye on the pie for the last ten minutes and if the crumbs start to get too dark, place a tented piece of foil over the top of the pie.
9. Remove the pie, place on a wire rack and let cool at least an hour before serving.
This pie is so awesome it needs no further dressing up. In fact, if you put whipped cream or whatever on this pie I will find you and confiscate the pie from your home. You’ve been warned!
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