Hot pots are the ultimate comfort food. Hearty vegetable and chickpea stew topped with creamy cauliflower mash makes for the perfect healthy dinner to welcome cooler weather. The weather is finally starting to cool down a little here in Brisbane and that’s got me thinking of half marathons and comfort food, you know, the classic autumn combination. Autumn is my favourite time of year to run outside. The air has the perfect amount of crispness, I don’t feel like I’m pounding my feet on the surface of the sun (a.k.a. running in summer in Australia), the sun is setting in gentle pastels and lights are twinkling on as I round the corner to home, and it’s the perfect time of year to refuel with some healthy comfort food. One of my staples when the weather turns cooler is a simple chickpea stew packed with veggies. Most of the time I just serve it soup-style or with zucchini noodles, or just whatever leftover cooked grain is hanging around in the fridge. On the weekend however I spotted a big luscious cauliflower and decided to change my stew into a hot pot topped with creamy cauliflower mash. Best comfort food decision ever. The heart of this meal is the tomato chickpea stew. We start with a base of carrots, capsicum, onions, and garlic. Sauteed until the are sweet and soft. Then we add a can of chickpeas, a can of cherry tomatoes, some herbs, and a little salt and pepper and boom – you’re done. You can just leave the chickpea mixture simmering on the stove while you prepare the cauliflower mash, which is super easy by the way! You simply saute a little more garlic and onion, add your finely chopped cauliflower and a splash of water, steam for a few minutes and then go to town with an immersion blender! I spooned my chickpea stew into these shallow and wide dishes (I think they’re actually meant for tapas, sorry Jamie Oliver) and then dolloped the creamy cauliflower mash on top. Just a sprinkling, okay, maybe a sprinkling and a half of good aged cheddar (parmesan would also work a treat)and parsley on top, and 10 minutes under the grill and dinner was served! P.S. If you’re vegan, just leave out the cheese – and your dinner will be ready 10 minutes quicker too 😉Your fork will slip through the pillow of cheesy, soft cauliflower mash, pick up bite-size pieces of veggies and chickpeas when you dig into this easy, healthy, family-friendly dinner. The cauliflower mash soaks up the sauce from the stew and by the time you are scraping the bottom you might just be eyeing off your table mate’s leftovers…
Chickpea Hot Pots with Cauliflower Mash
gluten free | vegetarian | serves 3-4 | leftovers will keep well-covered in the refrigerator for up to three days | to reheat: either place the ramekin in the microwave and heat until the centre of the stew is warm, or spoon into a microwave safe bowl and microwave until heated through
note: to make this vegan simply omit the cheese from the topping or use a vegan cheese substitute
For the chickpea stew
- 1 medium brown onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 large carrot
- 1/2 medium red capsicum
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 (400 gram) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 (400 gram) can cherry tomatoes (use chopped tomatoes if cherry are unavailable)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- Salt and pepper
For the cauliflower mash
- 1 small brown onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 medium head (about 800 grams) cauliflower
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup water
- Salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup grated aged cheddar
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- Finely dice onion, carrots, and capsicum, and crush garlic.
- Heat olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and capsicum and saute until the onion is soft. Add the garlic (this is so it doesn’t burn) and saute for a further two minutes.
- Add the chickpeas, canned tomatoes, and herbs and stir to combine. Season well with salt and pepper. Turn to a low heat and allow the stew to simmer gently while you prepare the cauliflower mash.
- Finely dice the onion, crush the garlic, and finely chop the cauliflower into small pieces.
- Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan with a tight-fitting lid.
- Saute the onion and garlic until the onion is soft. Add the cauliflower and the water and fit the saucepan with the lid.
- Steam the cauliflower for 5-10 minutes. You still want the florets to be in shape and not too soft so check at 5 minutes.
- Remove the cauliflower from the heat. Season well. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth and fluffy.
- Spoon the chickpea stew into large ramekins (about 10-12 cm across). Divide the cauliflower mash between the dishes, sprinkle with cheese and parsley.
- Place ramekins on a baking sheet and then put under the grill (broiler) for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is golden and melted.