Spartan CEO and founder Joe De Sena has been thriving on a whole-food plant-based diet since the 1970s, which is why he created Spartan's 14-day whole-food meal challenge. On a recent episode of the Spartan Up! podcast, Joe interviewed Dr. Alan Desmond, a medical doctor and gut microbiome expert, about his mission to help people optimize their health with one simple solution: eating more plants.
He's given us five great recipes that are packed with the diversity of whole plants, the dietary fiber, and the healthy protein that you need to crush the Spartan whole-food cleanse and smash that next Spartan race. Each of these recipes is featured in Dr. Desmond's new book, The Plant-Based Diet Revolution: 28 Days to a Happier Gut and a Healthier You.
Today's recipe is a plant-powered stew with braised chickpeas and couscous.
Plant-Powered Stew With Braised Chickpeas and Couscous
There are 12 different plants in this dish, but the real star is the aubergine. Baking it whole allows the inside to soften while the skin blisters in the heat of the oven.
Serves two; Prep and cook time: 45 minutes
Plant score: 12
Fiber per serving: 17 grams
Protein per serving: 20 grams
Gluten-Free: Yes, if you omit the couscous.
What You Need
1 large aubergine
1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (optional)
1 red onion, sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
½ cup of green olives, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1½ tablespoons of harissa
One 14-ounce can of chopped tomatoes or passata
¾ cup of vegetable stock
1 cup of baby spinach
Sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper
For the Braised Chickpeas:
1 14-ounce can of chickpeas
Pinch of saffron (optional)
½ of a cinnamon stick
⅓ cup of whole-grain couscous
About ½ cup of boiling water
Handful of parsley, chopped
Few fresh mint leaves, chopped
How to Make It
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the aubergine on a baking tray and place in the oven for 30 minutes, turning once or twice, until it is soft and collapsing and the skin is blistered. Pinch it with a pair of tongs to check. Set aside to cool slightly.
2. Warm the olive oil (if using) or a few tablespoons of water in a large saucepan, then add the onion and red pepper. Fry over medium heat for 15 minutes, until soft and starting to color. Add a dash more water if the mixture looks like it's catching.
3. Meanwhile, tip the chickpeas and their liquid into a large saucepan. Add the saffron (if using) and cinnamon and bring to a simmer. Cook gently for 20 minutes, until the chickpeas are very soft and are starting to break down.
4. When the onion mixture is ready, stir in the garlic, olives, cumin, paprika, and harissa. Fry for 1 minute before adding the tomatoes and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so.
5. When the chickpeas are ready, stir in the couscous and add the boiling water — just enough to cover everything. Cover the pan and set aside for five to 10 minutes, until the couscous has plumped up and become tender.
6. When the aubergines are cool enough to handle, peel away and discard the burnt skin. (Don’t be too fussy, the odd fleck adds a bit of smokiness.) Roughly chop the flesh and stir it into the stew along with the spinach. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, and a squeeze or two of lemon juice.
7. Use a fork to fluff up the couscous and chickpeas. Stir in the parsley and mint just before serving with the stew.
This recipe was originally published in Dr. Alan Desmond's book, The Plant-Based Diet Revolution: 28 Days to a Happier Gut and a Healthier You, featuring 80 vegan recipes by Bob Andrew and published by Yellow Kite. Photos are credited to Dan Jones.