Kung Pao Chickpeas


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Before we dive right into this awesome take-out, fake-out type of meal, let me just say it’s been one heck of a gorgeous weekend. The sun is shining, it’s a wee bit chilly, and there’s no humidity to be found. In other words, perfection! Early springtime reminds me a bit of fall, which makes me want to skip summer. Kidding…kind of. Don’t get me wrong, I love lying out in the sun by the pool, but the fun stops there. Heat + humidity just aren’t my friends.

Kung Pao Chickpeas | Love.Bake.Read

Since I mentioned every season just now, including fall…I feel happily inclined to mention that Steve and I have been married for 6 months today. My how time flies! We partially celebrated with a date night on Friday evening, which we kept simple by going to Panera. I realize that makes us sound like we’re 75, but that’s okay because we kind of are…at heart. We honestly don’t care what we do as long as we’re together. Cue the awwws! We would like to hop on the metro train down to DC today to see the stunning cherry blossoms, which are in full bloom, but we’re such homebodies that it’s to be seen if we actually make it out the door to go. Ha!

Autumn Elopement | Caroline Meyers Photography | Love.Bake.Read
Our most favorite picture! – Caroline Meyers Photography

Soooo, I’m obviously still on a chickpea kick—and I’m really hoping you like chickpeas just as much as we do. If not, I’m sure trying to make you. :) Is it working? While this meal sounds a bit on the light side, it’s actually quite filling, but in a very good way. You know, a happy-full, not a ugh-full.

The kung pao sauce is dynamite! It’s bold, tangy, sweet, and spicy all at once—a super flavorful party in your mouth. If you’re a sucker for a good sauce, then this will be right up your alley. 

Kung Pao Chickpeas | Love.Bake.Read

I loved that the chickpeas softened up a bit, but still held their shape. No mush here! Just a good solid meal that will help satisfy your craving for take-out. Speaking of, feel free to substitute the chickpeas for chicken, which is what this meal is typically made with. You could even use shrimp or beef. On second thought, don’t skip the chickpeas, just add in whatever else you’d like. Next time around, I’m thinking we’ll add some tofu bites. Yessss!

Did I mention that every time I say Kung Pao I feel kind of like a ninja? How cool that would be.

Kung Pao Chickpeas

Yields 6 servings

Ingredients

For the chickpea marinade

  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • Zest + juice of 2 limes (Reserve 1 tbsp. lime juice for the sauce)
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup or honey
  • 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch
  • 3 (15 oz.) cans chickpeas—drained and rinsed

For the kung pao sauce

  • ½ cup + 2 tbsp. reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2-4 tbsp. maple syrup or honey
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch

For the kung pao chickpeas

  • 2 tbsp. oil—divided use
  • 1 large yellow onion—thinly sliced
  • 1 bell pepper—seeded and sliced into thin strips
  • 4 cloves garlic—minced
  • Marinated chickpeas
  • Kung pao sauce

For serving

  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice—cooked according to package directions
  • Cashews
  • Sliced green onions
  • Red pepper flakes, for sprinkling

Directions

Note

Start by cooking the brown rice. I always forget and end up starting the rice halfway through making everything else, so I thought I’d give you a reminder. :)

For the chickpea marinade

To a large bowl (with a lid), add the soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime zest, lime juice, maple syrup (or honey), EVOO, and cornstarch. Whisk until well combined. Add the chickpeas, cover the bowl with the lid, and shake to coat the chickpeas. Let marinate for 30 minutes to 1 hour, shaking every 5-10 minutes, until ready to use.

For the kung pao sauce

Add all of the ingredients to a medium-sized bowl and whisk until well combined. Set aside.

For the kung pao chickpeas

Heat 1 tbsp. oil in a large sauté pan set over medium-high heat. Add the onion and green peppers and sauté until the onions are slightly caramelized and the peppers are softened, about 8-10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl. Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining 1 tbsp. oil to the sauté pan. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, just until fragrant. Add the marinated chickpeas to the pan and cook for about 10 minutes, or until the chickpeas begin to brown a bit. Return the onions and peppers to the pan, along with the kung pao sauce. Stir to combine. Let cook until the sauce thickens, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

For serving

To each bowl, add about a cup of rice followed by a ½ cup or so of the Kung Pao Chickpeas. Top each bowl with 1-2 tbsp. cashews and sprinkle with the sliced green onions and red pepper flakes.

Sources

1. Kung Pao Chickpeas slightly adapted from She Knows

2. Kung Pao Sauce adapted from Vegan Richa

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