It’s Lent, which means that for Catholics, it’s a time of sober reflection and not eating meat on Fridays, and for everyone else, it’s the 40 days between the day when women will show you their breasts in exchange for cheap beads and the day when an egg-laying rabbit gives you candy.
Under orders from my wife to come up with something meatless for Friday, I consulted the internet, and consulted what looked good at the grocery store, and I consulted the fact that I’m a big fan of garbanzo beans, and I came up with a meatless meatloaf that was a lot of fun.
As it turns out, chickpeas can neutralize a lot of spiciness, so even though this looks on paper like it ought to be pretty spicy, it’s actually flavorful but not especially piquant.
For a little extra flair, I put these together as individually molded “roasts” by cooking them in small pyrex bowls. This recipe filled three and three quarters one-cup bowls and one two-cup. I figured cooking them in a water bath would minimize cracking and make them easier to get out without breaking, but I’ve no idea. Some sautéed zucchini rounded out the meal.
- 400-500g chickpeas (About 2 cans, or half of a 1 lb bag of dried chickpeas rehydrated
- ¼ lb seasoned breadcrumbs (I pulsed some croutons in the food processor, having a big bag of croutons left over from Wednesday’s French Oignon Soupe Gratinée)
- ~3 Tbsp Spaghetti Sauce or crushed tomato
- 3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 large onion, diced fine or coarsely food-processed
- About 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 2 oz diced green chiles (half a can)
- 1 Tbsp Chilli Powder
- 1 Tbsp Cumin
- 1 Tbsp Dried Oregano
- 2 eggs
- ~1-2 Tbsp grated swiss cheese (Again, because I had leftovers from Wednesday)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Sautee the onion, garlic, pepper, chiles and cilantro in some butter and/or olive oil over medium heat. Add the dry spices and cook until the onions turn translucent. Pulverize the chickpeas in a food processor, aiming for a sort of lumpy oatmeal sort of thing. If you use dried chickpeas as I did, it might help to add a little light vegetable oil to get something pasty. Canned might not need it.
Mix together the chickpeas, breadcrumbs and tomato sauce in a bowl and fold in the vegetables. Any experience you have with making a meatloaf will come in handy here: just knead/stir/mash it until it comes together like a meatloaf. Fold in the eggs — you might not need both eggs if it seems like it’s holding together on its own.
Spray some oven-safe bowls with baking spray. If you’re using cheese, sprinkle down a layer of cheese on the bottom of each bowl, then press the bowl just shy of full with the chickpea mixture.
Place the individual bowls in a water bath. If you’ve never done this before, it works like this: put the bowls in a largeish pan, like a lasagne pan, and put the pan in the oven. Then pour water into the pan around the bowls enough to fill it up to about the middle of the bowls. This is the technique that minimizes you splashing water all over the place and soaking your little chickpea roasts. Now, if anyone has a good technique for getting them out of the water bath at the end, let me know. I pretty much just ended up taking one for the team and grabbing something hot.
Cook at 350° for about 45 minutes or until firm. Remove the bowls from the water bath and run a thin knife around the edge of each bowl. Invert over a plate and give it a few gentle taps until the loaves fall out.