This Moroccan spiced chickpea veggie sauté is incredibly easy and flavorful – perfect for quick, plant-based weeknight dinners.
You know what question I’m not great at answering? It’s really basic… don’t laugh. It’s…
What are you up to?
Yes. That is the question I’ve always been terrible at answering. Weird, right? I kind of always kind of knew I stunk at answering it, but I really realized it hard last year when I was talking on the phone with someone who innocently asked me what I was up to, and I responded with, “Well… I’m not multi-tasking, sooo what I’m up to now is talking to you.” Okay, what? Who even says that?! Obviously I knew he didn’t mean LITERALLY this 1/10th of second what are you doing?? Needless to say, he didn’t sound satisfied with my response, and nor was I. I cringed immediately after I said it! Obviously it was forgotten and normal conversation ensued (hoping that meant he didn’t take my awkwardness personally??). Point is, in that moment, I identified this internal struggle that I experience when confronted with this most basic question.
We all know that the easiest, most frequently used, and automatic response to What are you up to? would be, Not much. Just like in the days of AOL instant messaging…
sk8rgurl3: “kk. g2g. ttyl”
LOL. Remember that?! In case you were wondering, sk8rgrl3 had to go because back in those days you had to disconnect your phone to use your internet, and her mom needed to make a phone call. Also, side note, everyone has had at least ONE embarrassing screen name. Come on. You know it’s true. Oh, good times…
But in my case, at any given moment, not much (or n2m) would be so ridiculously far from the truth because fact about me: I can’t stand doing not much. It’s both an asset and a downfall because I accomplish a lot, but I also can’t relax when I’m not accomplishing something. Plus, not much is the predictable response you give when you’d rather not think, or when you’re unaware that you’re not thinking about what you’re up to. Do I want to be predictable? No. Do I want to experience life absentmindedly and be unaware of being unaware of what I’m up to? (Yup, things just got “meta”). Heck no!
But–inner struggle time–my introverted nature makes me have to work really really hard to be spontaneously open with people. It’s so much easier to say, Not much, than it is to be completely open, though that’s precisely the response I don’t want to give for reasons explained. Luckily, once I get to know someone, I really have no anxiety over being spontaneously open about my life (I sound super sketchy right now. It’s all those crimes I commit. Gotta be secretive). So all in all, I know it’s just a silly piece of my personality, and I don’t take it too seriously. People probably don’t even notice! Any introverts out there who get me?
Still, I would like improve my candid impromptu responses to What are you up to? and similar questions, so I prepare myself by playing this sort of mental game. When my mind is sort of wandering, I’ll sometimes imagine an acquaintance or friend calls and asks what I’m up to, and how I’d hypothetically respond in a specific, candid way. For the most part, my responses would be completely normal and expected, such as, “I’m at Barnes & Noble buying afternoon coffee and looking for the Love and Lemons cookbook” (true story – happened just last weekend :)); or, “I’m folding laundry”; etc.
But then… there are times where my candid responses would be the last thing you’d expect to hear, like, “Oh, you know, just roasting a poblano pepper,” or, “Well, I’m actually trying to fish a binder clip out of my garbage disposal with a salad tongs.” (Both recent occurrences). Oh, or, “I just tried selling 30 articles of clothing to the used clothing store up the street, but they only gave me $3, so now I’m biking to the Jenifer Street Market to buy chickpea flour with it.” (I knew in advance that the chickpea flour was about $3… aaand other than that I really have no explanation for my random behaviors 🙂 But hey, you need at least one eccentric person in your life, don’t you?? Well then, hi.).
Anyway, that’s my stream of consciousness for the day. Now let’s talk about this Moroccan spiced chickpea veggie sauté. So, for starters, I didn’t even think I could do anything ‘Moroccan spiced’ without following some sort of recipe. I thought, I’ve made curry… but I’ve never made anything Moroccan spiced... hopefully people think I know what I’m doing. Fact is, I rarely know what I’m doing, but I do think I’ve got a basic Moroccan spice combo down that I really like and will definitely use again. I think you’ll like it too.
Moroccan spices are delicious in an exotic way and ultra healthy (hellooooo antioxidants!). You may have seen them in trendy superfood articles featuring turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, cayenne, etc. But you guys, these are not suddenly more awesome than before just because they’re in the popular crowd now. Superfoods, yes; but mere trends? No, these spices are freaking OLD and are just as awesome as they were centuries ago, with or without food magazine attention. Back in 1492, even the people in geographically adjacent areas (such as the Mediterranean) were probably all like, “Uhhh yeah so I know we have a history of conquering each other like all the time but can we just share spices cuz yours smell amazing k thanks.”
The cool thing about Moroccan spices is that you usually use a bunch of different ones at once, and you can adjust the ratios to your liking. Add more turmeric and ginger if you want a little more bite, or likewise with cinnamon if you want more sweetness and warmth. Cayenne, obviously, will add heat. You can look up a homemade spice blend, or you can do a little research and then wing it like I did. Luckily I ended up loving it 🙂 (oh trust me, I’ve had some cooking adventures go seriously awry).
Another noteworthy thing about this Moroccan spiced chickpea veggie sauté, in particular, is that it’s totally one of those 30-minute weeknight dinners where you use your pantry staples (canned tomatoes and chickpeas) and pretty much whatever veggies you have on hand. I would say as long as you have onion and garlic, you can have free reign over the other veggies. I particularly like carrots and zucchini because they make it colorful 🙂 But you could choose anything that will absorb the flavors well, like yellow squash, butternut squash, pumpkin, eggplant, or peppers.
Of course, don’t forget that fresh cilantro — I can never get enough.
Let me know how it goes!
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ yellow onion, diced
- 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
- 1 cup carrots sliced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can chickpeas
- 2 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp paprika
- dash of cayenne
- salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- fresh cilantro, avocado, sour cream or other toppings
- Melt coconut oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Swirl around and make sure pan is evenly coated. Add garlic and onions. Sauté until translucent, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
- Add zucchini and carrots. Sauté for another 5-7 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, chickpeas and spices. Stir everything a couple times to evenly distribute spices and ingredients. Turn heat to high and allow to come to a boil (tomato juices will start to bubble), then reduce to medium-low. Cover pan and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
- Remove cover and stir a few times. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper, and adjust spices as needed.
- Serve with favorite toppings, such as fresh cilantro, avocado, or sour cream. Optional: serve over quinoa.