One of my most core cooking beliefs, cemented over 15 vegetarian years (that ended shortly before this site began) is that most, or at minimum, half of what we think we like about eating meat has absolutely nothing to do with meat, but the way it’s prepared, from the salt-pepper char on a steak to the layers of flavors in a long braise. It’s this logic that led me to mushroom bourguignon and pate and even pizza beans, where the beans take the place of meat and pasta in a ziti-like dish. And it’s what led me to drop my jaw at the brilliance of Molly Yeh’s 2018 “brisket-braised chickpeas” (cozy braised chickpeas with squash), a brisket-free, vegan dish that uses the flavors you’d put in your favorite brisket braise but with chickpeas and vegetables. My sister had recently gone vegan, and the timing was perfect for our new year meal.
But brisket preferences are highly personal, so I make it with my favorite braise, adapted from Maya’s Sweet and Sour High Holiday Brisket in The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It uses tomato paste for body and a couple glugs of vinegar for a deeply tangy sauce I reverse-engineered from the version with mother in-law makes which I described in the book as using “a bottle of None Of Your Business, a few spoonfuls of Also Not Going To Tell You, and a packet of So Many Questions Today! How Is My Beautiful Grandson?” I keep the big carrot coins used in the book’s recipe but add meaty slices of portobello mushrooms for a hearty, cozy stew. I thought I’d get ahead this year (or for the first time, ever) and make it a week early and freeze it, but we can’t stop eating it, sometimes even cold from the fridge. Fortunately, it starts with two cans of already-cooked beans (which cook until extra-tender, but they don’t fall apart), and vegetables you can buy almost anywhere, so it won’t be much of a hurdle to make more.
Six months ago: Chicken, Leek and Rice Soup
One year ago: Crisped Chickpeas with Herbs and Garlic Yogurt
Two years ago: Salted Caramel Pretzel Blondies
Three year ago: Foolproof Cacio e Pepe
Four years ago: Cheesecake Bars with All The Berries and Corn Chowder with Chile, Lime, and Cotija
Five years ago: Eggplant Parmesan Melts and Even More Perfect Blueberry Muffins
Six years ago: Angel Hair Pasta with Raw Tomato Sauce, Crispy Peach Cobbler, and Corn Chowder Salad
Seven years ago: Strawberries and Cream with Graham Crumbles and Corn Cheddar and Scallion Strata
Eight years ago: Almond-Crisped Peaches, Key Lime Popsicles and Zucchini Parmesan Crisps
Nine years ago: Mediterranean Baked Feta with Tomatoes, Leek, Chard, and Corn Flatbread and Vanilla Custards with Roasted Blueberries
Ten years ago: Hazelnut Plum-Crumb Tart, Zucchini Fritters, and Naked Tomato Sauce
Eleven years ago: Eggplant Salad Toasts and Peach Shortbread
Twelve years ago: Griled Eggplant and Olive Pizza and Peach Cupcakes with Brown Sugar Frosting
Thirteen years ago: Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, Kefta and Zucchini Kebabs and Dimply Plum Cake
Fourteen years ago: Double Chocolate Torte and Spicy Soba Noodles with Shiitakes
Fifteen years ago: Moules Frites and 44-Clove Garlic Soup
Tangy Braised Chickpeas with Carrots and Mushrooms
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
- 2 large, thick carrots (12 ounces), in 1/4-inch slices
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 6 ounces or 2 large portobello mushrooms, in generous 1/2-inch slices
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- 3 to 4 cups mushroom or vegetable stock
- 1/3 cup red wine or sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire or soy sauce
- 2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 bay leaf
Heat 4 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and add onion; cook 3 minutes, until softened. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more. Add the carrots, 1 teaspoon salt, freshly ground black pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook for 2 more minutes, until they begin to glisten. Add the mushrooms and cook for 4 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add tomato paste and brown sugar and cook until well-incorporated, 3 minutes. Add 3 cups stock, vinegar, Worcestershire or soy sauce, chickpeas, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer with another teaspoon of kosher salt and more ground pepper.
Once simmering, either cover tightly with a lid or pour into your baking dish and cover with a lid or tightly with foil and transfer to oven. Braise chickpeas and vegetables for 90 minutes, checking at the 1 hour mark to make sure the chickpeas haven’t absorbed all of the broth (and adding the remaining 1 cup broth if so). Remove from oven, discard bay leaf, and adjust seasonings to taste.
Do ahead: Braised chickpeas will keep in the fridge for 4 days, and for a month or longer in the freezer. Reheat at 350 degrees.