Now, I’m perfectly aware that my last post about cooking and freezing chickpeas may have been lacking in excitement for some of you. Perhaps you even stifled a yawn, thought ‘b-o-r-i-n-g‘ and moved on to something else.
Okay, I admit it, an article about plain cooked chickpeas in a freezer bag doesn’t make for the most gripping of food writing. But did you really think I was going to leave it at that? Didn’t you suspect that I might have a far more interesting use for those rehydrated legumes up my sleeve?
So, voila, today I bring you butternut squash and chickpea cakes. And not just mushed-up squash, but roasted butternut squash with just a hint of caramelization, mixed in with chickpeas and spices and herbs. These make beautifully tasty cakes that go well with a salad for a light meal or a first course for a dinner.
I found the recipe for these on one of my go-to vegetarian cooking blogs, Cook Eat Live Vegetarian. Do yourself a favour and take a leisurely tour through this blog. You’ll see that Natalie, the author, presents artful vegetarian dishes that not only taste good, but are lovely to look at, too. Her post also includes three condiments to serve with these cakes. I’m afraid I went straight for the cakes and left it at that. They’re good on their own, but one of these days I may try some of the sides as well.
I first made these at the cottage, where I wasn’t able to weigh the squash. I didn’t use enough, and the cakes turned out on the dry side, although very flavourful; in fact, they were too spicy for me. I made them again at home, using more squash and less garam masala, and they turned out just the way I wanted: moist and rich from the squash, robust from the chickpeas, brightened by the herby pungency of the cilantro and warmly spiced.
That’s the art of cooking, isn’t it? A little more of this, a little less of that, until you have a dish that’s just the way you like it, and something you’d be proud to serve to guests (which is exactly what I did with these little beauties!).
Butternut Squash & Chickpea Cakes
Recipe as I adapted it from Cook Eat Live Vegetarian, here.
Preheat oven to 190º C (375º F) for roasting the squash. If cooking the cakes later, heat the oven to 375º again.
- 500 g butternut squash, cut into 1-2 cm cubes (about 1/2 inch) – (sorry, I didn’t measure the squash out in cups, but this is just over a pound. As a rough measure, you’re looking for just a bit more squash than chickpeas)
- 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 19-oz can rinsed & drained
- 40 gr (1/3 cup) cornmeal (or breadcrumbs)
- 1-1/2 tsp – 1 tbsp garam masala (the smaller amount was enough for me, using my homemade blend, which has quite a kick)
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 2 – 3 cloves garlic (up to 1 tbsp), finely chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 egg
- handful fresh coriander, chopped
- 1 – 2 tsp salt, to taste
- freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Place the squash cubes on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 1 tbsp of the olive oil, sprinkle on some of the minced garlic and toss with your hands until evenly coated with oil. Spread out as much as you can and roast until golden and soft and just starting to caramelize. You want the squash to be nice and moist, so the cakes won’t be dry.
Put the rest of the ingredients into a large bowl, then add the cooked squash. Mix well, either using your hands or a potato masher (my choice). The final mixture should be mushy enough to hold its shape, but still with some chunks.
For ease of handling, you can put plastic wrap directly on the surface of the mixture and refrigerate for about an hour, or you can proceed to the next step right away. Form into 12 charming patties. If you like, you can pour some extra cornmeal or breadcrumbs on a flat plate and dip the surfaces of the patties (including the sides) into it. I did this for the first batch, but didn’t feel I need to for the second batch.
Line a baking tray again with parchment paper and brush it with olive oil. Place the cakes on the tray, and brush the tops and sides with a little bit of oil. Bake for about 20 minutes, until cooked through and the bottoms are nicely browned. Serve bottoms up for an attractive presentation.
Alternatively, you could fry the cakes in olive oil over medium heat, about 4 – 5 minutes on each side until crispy and browned. (That’s how I reheat them.)
I froze the leftovers to enjoy at a later time. Just take them out of the freezer ahead of time to thaw, then reheat as described above.
To your good health – enjoy!