A Completely Healthy Meal You Can Make With A Slow Cooker

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1Photo: Courtesy of Kitchen Konfidence.
When one hears the term slow cooker, thoughts of chili, pulled pork, stews and soups usually come to mind. Major yum. Not so healthy. So, several weeks ago, I decided I wanted to challenge myself to cook something completely healthy in my slow cooker. This recipe for braised chickpeas with spinach salad is what I came up with. Dried chickpeas are soaked overnight then cooked in a flavorful bath of homemade vegetable stock, carrot, onion, celery, and bay. Finished with fire-roasted tomatoes, salt, and pepper, these slow-cooked chickpeas are tender, buttery, and so-delicious. The depth of flavor really is crave-worthy. A spinach salad dressed in a red wine vinaigrette is a fresh counter to the rich, bold chickpeas. I enjoyed this dish several times for dinner. No meat required.

Before we get to the recipe, I want to mention two tips that will help you make this dish as tasty as possible. First, be sure to use homemade stock or a high-quality store-bought stock. The chickpeas will be braising for 8 hours in this liquid, so you want to make sure it’s top notch. Second, do not use canned chickpeas here. Starting with dried chickpeas allows you to really infuse them mouth-watering flavor. Continue reading for the recipe.

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2Photo: Courtesy of Kitchen Konfidence.
Braised Chickpeas With Spinach Salad
Adapted from here
Serves: 6

Ingredients

For the braised chickpeas:
2 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
3 bay leaves (preferably fresh)
3 cups vegetable stock (preferably homemade)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 15 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained

For the spinach salad:
3/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups baby spinach

Instructions
Add dried chickpeas to a large bowl then add water, covering by 2 inches (they expand a good amount). Let soak overnight then drain well.

Warm olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and bay, stirring to coat in the oil. Cook until the vegetables are soft, but not brown (6 - 7 minutes). Stir in vegetable stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to lift any brown bits. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker. Add chickpeas, stir, cover and cook on low for 6 hours.

Stir in 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, several turns of black pepper, and the tomatoes, cover and cook for an additional 2 hours. The chickpeas should be tender, but not mushy. Season to taste with additional kosher salt and black pepper.

Remove and discard bay leaves. Scoop chickpeas from the slow cooker using a slotted spoon and place in a serving bowl. Reserve the braising liquid.

While the chickpeas are cooking, prepare the vinaigrette. Add red onion, garlic, red wine vinegar, kosher salt and a few turns of black pepper to a mason jar, shaking to combine. Add extra-virgin olive oil and shake again until the vinaigrette emulsifies (oil and vinegar mix together). Just before you are about to serve, toss baby spinach with vinaigrette.

To serve, spoon chickpeas on to a large, dinner plate. Top with a little braising liquid to moisten. Place spinach salad on the side.

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