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Some people stockpile dried pastas. Some hoard rices. Others stack can after can of black beans into a neat legume fortress. When it comes to optimizing your pantry for those in-a-pinch meals, everyone has a different dry-goods safety blanket.  

If my pantry weren’t just a single narrow cabinet that I share with another adult human being, I’d dedicate several shelves to canned chickpeas. I’m talking rows and rows and rows of ’em. They’re cheap, they’re packed with those “nutrient” things your doctor keeps rambling on about, and, most importantly, they’re remarkably easy to cook with. Plus, they tackle a Herculean task with ease: Chickpeas satisfy an omnivore’s cravings while still appealing to the ethos of an herbivore.  

Chickpeas — a.k.a. garbanzo beans, a.k.a. Lil’ Garbs, a.k.a. Ride-or-Die Chicks — are forgiving in a way that other pantry staples sometimes are not (cough, cough, rice!) and bend to your will.

Pan-fry them, roast them, stew them, mash them, puree them; she has the range, as they say

You might be thinking: We’re building entire dinners this week around something that comes out of a can? Sure are! While dried chickpeas are always an option, all that soaking and waiting and simmering isn’t exactly conducive to our fast-paced lifestyles. I’d rather use our precious Sunday time to prep something like can-powered Falafel-ish Fritters instead.

Maybe you already have several cans of chickpeas stocked in the cupboard, or maybe you’ll pick some up from the store later with the help of our handy-dandy shopping list. But always, always, buy more than you need for your canned goods arsenal.

This week's game plan

Falafel-ish Fritter Bowls With Harissa Yogurt (V)
This Mediterranean meal is peak Bowl Culture™: It's packed with leafy greens, curly cukes, olives, spicy yogurt and, of course, chickpea fritters.

Crispy Chickpeas With Fried Shallots and Cilantro-Mint Chutney (V)
A creamy, nearly neon sauce takes these simple ’peas to the next level.

Hummus With Spiced Beef and Red Peppers
You heard it here first (okay, probably not): Hummus for dinner is the new cheese for dinner.

V - vegetarian

Your shopping list

You down? Chickplease click this link for an easy-to-save shopping list that includes ingredients for all three recipes.

Sunday task

Form your Falafel-ish Fritters

A wild thing about making your own falafel with canned chickpeas (hence, the “-ish”) is that two or three extra pulses in the food processor can stand between a perfectly coarse, textured meal and wet slop. Be judicious when you whip out the food processor, and opt for quick pulses over letting the thing run freely. 

While a food processor is ideal, you can still make these fritters without one. It’s true! I tried it by hand. You’ll need to mince the onion, garlic, cilantro and mint with a chef’s knife and add them to one bowl, then use a potato masher to pound well-dried canned chickpeas in another bowl until they’re all completely broken up and you have a coarse meal. Mincing and mashing will take a little more time than a food processor, but the results are indiscernible from one another. Add the chickpeas to the oniony herb mixture and proceed with the recipe.

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes.

Makes 12 fritters, 4 servings. You’ll need: 

½ medium onion, cut into chunks 
4 cloves garlic 
1 cup packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
10 mint leaves
One 14.5- to 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed and patted dry 
1½ teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
2 tablespoons flour 
½ cup plain panko 

Special equipment: 
Food processor

Let’s pull out that food processor of yours. We’ll first pulse the onion and garlic a few times, just to chop ’em up slightly. Once you’ve done that, you can follow with the fresh herbs, chickpeas and spices. Pulse only until you’ve created a coarse meal. You may have a couple larger chunks of chickpeas, and that’s more than okay. I’d rather you under-process and adjust than puree. There’s no turning back from puree. 

Transfer it to a mixing bowl and add the flour and panko. Fold the ingredients in just enough to distribute them evenly. You’ll notice the mixture looks and feels dry and doesn’t stick together on its own. That’s the good stuff. 

From there, you can form 12 patties that are 2 inches wide and about ½ inch thick. Because the mixture is a tad drier than where we started, you’ll want to really pack them with your hands so the fritters don’t crumble. You can store them similarly to how you stored the meatballs in Week 4: layers separated by parchment paper in a glass container. Stick them in the fridge until you’re ready to fry them up.

Recipes

Falafel-ish Fritter Bowls With Harissa Yogurt

[Extremely Stefon voice] This bowl has everything: Crunchy cabbage! Oil-massaged kale! Spicy yogurt! Cool-as-a-cucumber roll-ups! Lil’ crispy chickpea pancake things! It’s a textural experience if you’ve ever tasted one.

Prep time: 15 to 20 minutes. Cook time: 10 minutes.

2 servings. You’ll need: 

4 or 5 lacinato (dino) kale leaves, stems discarded
4 or 5 green cabbage leaves
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more
1 large seedless cucumber
¼ cup vegetable oil 
6 Falafel-ish Fritter patties (your Sunday prep!) 
¼ cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt 
1 tablespoon harissa 
Juice of half a lemon 
Kosher salt
Freshly cracked black pepper 
½ cup pitted kalamata olives 
1 medium tomato, cut into wedges
Fresh herbs, such as mint or parsley leaves, coarsely chopped for garnish

Grab those greens. We’re going to chop the kale and cabbage into thin ribbons. The cabbage is a no-brainer; for the kale, just roll it up like you would herbs for a fancy schmancy chiffonade, then get to chopping. Looks pretty good. Grab the kale strips, drizzle with a little olive oil and lightly massage them. Just a little love, don’t go full-Swedish.

Cucumber on deck. You can chop it into disks or matchsticks, but I like to dig out the vegetable peeler from the kitchen gadget abyss drawer and use it to create wide ribbons that I can roll into little cucumber roses. You could also use the widest setting on a box grater. There’s absolutely no utility to this, but it’s cute as heck. Get Michael’s crafty if that’s your vibe. 

Your shredded greens are prepped and ready for the bowl, so we’ll go ahead and pan-fry up our star of the show. Heat the vegetable oil in a smaller skillet over medium heat. We want a smaller skillet so the oil can reach the sides of the fritters. Once the oil is glistenin’ hot, cook the fritters until crispy and deeply brown, 2 to 3 minutes on each side. 

While those are going, take to whipping up a quick yogurt to tie together this gift of a meal. Just whisk together the yogurt, harissa, the tablespoon of olive oil and lemon in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.

If you like a bit more kick, get heavy-handed with the harissa. The popular Middle Eastern condiment is a chili paste made primarily of roasted red peppers, and it comes in a variety of spice levels. Try incorporating harissa into marinades and/or sauces to give dishes a spicy and smoky umph.

Grab two bowls and split the leafy greens, cucumber rollups, kalamata olives, tomato wedges and fritters among them. Spoon in the harissa yogurt and finish things off with fresh herbs, a few cracks of pepper and maybe another drizzle of olive oil if you’re into it.

Crispy Chickpeas With Fried Shallots and Cilantro-Mint Chutney

A couple months back, I tried freestyling my own Green Goddess-esque salad dressing. It was … not great! In a desperate attempt to salvage the monstrosity I’d created (and all the wonderful fresh herbs I’d already committed to it), I found my way to a sauce that elevated a weeknight staple of mine: crispy chickpeas. This chutney is a color fit for a neon Heineken sign at the gas station, but trust me, it just works. You can keep it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days after whipping it up. Keep in mind that you’re making a larger batch of Crispy Chickpeas so you can save 1 cup of the chickpea mixture for the Hummus With Spiced Beef and Red Peppers on another night of your choosing. 

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 15 to 20 minutes. 
 
2 to 3 servings. You’ll need:

1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
Kosher salt 
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil 
Two 14.5- to 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained and patted dry
⅓ cup packed mint leaves
⅔ cup packed cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 tablespoon plain, full-fat Greek yogurt
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons golden raisins
¼ teaspoon granulated garlic (a.k.a. garlic powder)
2 large shallots, sliced thinly into rings
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 


Special equipment: 
Blender

Rice things first! You really know how to cook rice now! Rinse the rice, bring a big pot of water to a boil, hit it with some salt, add the rinsed rice and cook uncovered over medium-high heat for 12 minutes, stirring every so often. You’ve got this. When it’s done, drain the rice and return it to the pot; cover to keep it cozy and warm.

Heat ½ cup of the oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Get the chickpeas rolling by adding them to the skillet and sprinkling them with a good bit of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes. 

In the meantime, let's bust out the blender and make some chutney. Chuck in the mint, cilantro, yogurt, lime juice, golden raisins, garlic powder, ¼ teaspoon salt and the remaining ¼ cup of oil with reckless abandon and blend until you've got a smooth, neon paste.

Hey, it's been 8 minutes! Add the shallot rings and crushed red pepper flakes to the skillet and cook, stirring often, for another 4 to 5 minutes, or until the chickpeas crisp up and the shallots are lightly browned. Serve the crispy chickpeas and shallots over rice and cover with chutney.

Leftovers: Hummus With Spiced Beef and Red Peppers

2 servings.

Special equipment:
Food processor

So you have around 1 cup of crispy chickpeas and fried shallots leftover from the other night. Can we make hummus from that? Considering people are turning brownies into “hummus,” we absolutely can. Because the chickpeas have been cooked, we’ll need to blend them in the food processor with 2 tablespoons tahini until there’s a chunky paste. Add the juice from 1 lemon and pulse, then add ¼ cup ice water (but do so a tablespoon at a time) and pulse between pouring and until silky smooth. Chuck in an ice cube or two if it needs to thin out a bit, then season with salt. Taste and adjust however you’d like. 

You’ll want to serve the hummus with a big spoonful of crispy spiced beef and red peppers in the center, trust me. (If you’re vegetarian, feel free to skip the beef all together! Stick with red peppers and maybe add in some crushed olives or nuts.) Heat a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat and add two palm-fulls of ground beef (I like 85/15, meaning the beef is 15 percent fat) to the pan. Press down on the beef so that it’s making contact with most of the skillet and sear it for 3 to 4 minutes so the bottom browns. While the bottom crisps, season the meat with a couple shakes of your Spice Cabinet All-Stars: salt, cumin, coriander, oregano, granulated garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Break apart the meat with a wooden spoon to distribute the spices and cook for 2 more minutes.

Spoon some hummus onto two plates, then press with the back of a spoon and spin the bowls around to make a little nest in the center. Divide the beef between the bowls and drizzle the center with a good bit of olive oil. Scoop a few spoonfuls of jarred roasted red peppers on top. Use warmed pita or naan as your hummus shovel.


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Chickpeas and thank you.

I asked y'all to share your MPOA creations on Instagram and you have not disappointed. Congrats to @akmitc (Week 1), @julia.meal.preps (Week 2), @chelseabot (Week 3), @andrea.rose.jones (Week 4) and @theskyandme1980 (Week 5) your creations have won you a Voraciously tote bag! I'll reach out to you individually via DM. If you didn't win one, there's still plenty of time and plenty of totes, so keep posting and tagging #eatvoraciously for a chance to win.

Have a question? Message us on Instagram or email us voraciously@washpost.com. You can find me at @tanyasic on Twitter and Instagram, and be sure you’re following us at @eatvoraciously for all that good Food Content.

Week 7 sneak peek: Leafy greens

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