I spent this weekend on Saltspring Island visiting my folks and playing with their new Suffolk lambs that were born last week. Lambs are very docile within the first few weeks, letting themselves be picked up and cuddled; but they’re voraciously hungry, nibbling on clothing, shoelaces, an extended finger, or the dog’s tail. Thankfully, my mom’s sheep are for wool only, not for serving with mint sauce. She would just as soon make a stew from her Golden Doodle than send her sheep down the Green Mile.
My sister has been sick for a few days, so my mom proposed a cooking marathon on Sunday to prepare some healthy food to bring over. Cooking there is always a pleasure, except when baking is involved; my mom’s Aga stove, with its many compartments of varying temperatures, perplexes me and thwarts any attempt to adhere to standard cooking times. She has an immense, well-lit kitchen with ample counter space and breath-taking ocean views. Every few hours a ferry will trod past, weaving in and out of the Gulf Islands, or a pair of eagles will careen in the wind as they eye up waterfowl.
This healthy and tasty meal has loose ties to a recipe my mom found in the Flat Belly Diet book that’s she’s been carrying around like a holy text. She’s been on a fitness kick for the past few months and has been very proud of the results. The epitome of modest, when someone comes to visit she’ll say something like “Feel my arms,” as she flexes her biceps and scowls. “The beach is that way.”
We’ve added the yogourt here, for a healthier alternative to coconut milk, and the pineapple gives the dish a surprisingly sweet taste that compliments the heat of the curry. Enjoy!
Preparation and cooking time: 25 minutes
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 tsp curry powder
1/2 medium yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
4 medium tomatoes, chopped small (1 1/2 cups)
4 tbsp plain yogourt
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 cup fresh, chopped pineapple
1/2 tbsp chilli pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
Ground pepper to taste
2 cups baby spinach, stems removed
1. In a large frying pan or saucepan, heat up the oil on medium-high heat. Add the curry powder with the onions, garlic and ginger and saute until the onions are translucent and the curry powder is heated and beautifully fragrant.
2. Stir in the tomatoes and yellow pepper and stir for 5 minutes, then add the yogurt, chick peas and pineapple chunks. Stir and let cook for 12-15 minutes on medium heat. Add the salt and pepper, then mix.
3. Add the spinach and mix together until the spinach just starts to wilt, then remove from the heat. Season with additional curry powder, salt or pepper as desired.
March 24th, 2011 at 10:20 am
Sounds and looks delicious, and is definitely a different dish than what I would normally try! I’m on a healthy-eating kick, too, and hoping to make it more of a lifestyle change than a passing fad for me. Thanks for sharing!
March 24th, 2011 at 12:59 pm
I never knew that those stoves were called Aga and that the various ovens all ran at different temperatures. So interesting! I wonder what the idea behind it was originally? Nowadays it sounds completely baffling.
Your curry chickpea dish looks good. I’d substitute the pineapple for something else since it gives me hives, but otherwise, I think that I’d like it. Hegui makes some similar Indian-style dishes with chickpeas.
March 24th, 2011 at 4:29 pm
This sounds great Mike – thanks for sharing!
I plan to make this for lunches – nice and healthy, and low GI too 🙂
March 30th, 2011 at 7:40 am
Mike, healthy cooking? I’ll forgive you this time as it’s for your sister’s benefit. But once she’s well, I want to some frying, sauteing, and fat-infused dishes. love the Aga, though I would have no idea where to begin.
May 16th, 2011 at 6:48 pm
Looks great! I’m keen to try although I think I’d have to go with the less healthier version with coconut milk, I adore the flavor it lends a dish;) thanks for the inspiration.
July 23rd, 2011 at 7:24 pm
Mike, I found you website because I was looking for a recipe to cook beets on an Aga…as I have recently inherited one with my house. Slowly I am starting to love it. But it is a journey.
Up till now, I thought any question in the world could be answered by googling it. NOT so. I still can not find the answer to cooking beets on an Aga. I think I will try roasting them in the roasting oven whole, pealing them once cooked, slicing them thinly and adding a light coat of almond oil, lemon juice, himalaya salt (yes, it tastes different than reg. salt) and pepper and fresh italian parsley. Or something like that. Perhaps your mother knows? Any suggestions?
July 25th, 2011 at 6:10 am
Chris, I agree that Agas do take adjusting to, especially for baking I find, when temperatures need to be more precise. The one my mom has is a 4-oven model: the roasting oven on the top right (480 F), the baking oven on the bottom right (375F), simmering oven on the top left (220 F), and the warming oven on the bottom left.
When I’m rushed for time, I normally boil the beets, although oven-roasted beets have a richer, more caramelized flavour. I would normally bake them at 400 F, but in this case the bottom right oven would work. Try wrapping them in foil so they don’t dry out, and leave them in for between an hour to 1 h 45, depending on their size. Prick them with the tines of a fork part way, to test, if you’re unsure.
Your recipe sounds delicious. I also really like pickled beets, so sometimes I add balsamic vinaigrette to the cooked beets for a similar taste. Or maybe try serving them with a balsamic reduction (about 1/2 cup of balsamic vinaigrette with a tsp of sugar, boiled down in frying pan until thick) – tastes like heaven! Mike
July 28th, 2011 at 7:03 pm
Thanks for the reply Mike.
My Aga is also a 4-oven model. Since I am in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the summer is very warm, I have it turned down to half-way between the black line (optimal heat) and the black zone (not warm quite warm enough). In the winter, I think it will keep the kitchen warm and cozy when turned up to normal temp. Everything still cooks wonderfully, just needs a bit more time…but since the Aga is always on, that is not a problem.
I did roast the beets in the hotter roasting oven (top right) on a middle rack and without foil. Amazingly, they were not dry, and full of rustic flavor. They did take 1 h 45. Peeled them once cool, sliced thinly and then made your vinaigrette recipe above with white balsamico, fresh parsley from the garden and a few red onion rings cut very, very thin and freshly ground pepper. Chilled it… and served as an appetizer with a nice glass of white wine and a fresh crisp baguette. It is all in the simple things of life….Thanks again.