Merge in Buffalo, NY is hands-down my favorite restaurant. I love going there because the vibe is totally modern and fun, which is a nice break from the usual hippy-vibe of most vegan restaurants. You can dress nice, listen to live music, drink cocktails AND eat delicious vegan food. This is exactly what I’m thinking of when I talk about living MORE. Oh yeah, and they have something on the menu for everyone–your gluten-free friend, your pescatarian friend, your omnivore friend, your raw food diet friend. I mean, who even has that many friends?
Anyways, during my most recent visit to Merge, I ordered their Moroccan Chickpea Cake and absolutely fell in love. It sort of reminded my of Chana Masala, my favorite Indian dish, except because it was in cake form it was perfect served on top of Merge’s Pumpkin Coconut Curry. Then, to bring it all together, it had a delicious cranberry type sauce on top. Seriously, all of the things I love most in the world.
In this version, I tried to simplify things a bit by just putting cranberries right into the cake and using mostly canned ingredients (less prep work). I also, decided to use butternut squash instead of pumpkin, just because I prefer it. The only thing challenging about this recipe is that the Moroccan spice blend, ras el hanout, probably won’t be found in your local grocery store. However, if there’s a spice shop near you like Savory Spice Shop here in Charlotte, they’re sure to have it. Or, you can order it off Amazon or even make the blend yourself! Trust me, the recipe is worth it.
Moroccan Chickpea Casserole with Butternut Squash Coconut Curry
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Makes 8-10 Servings
For the Chickpea Casserole
3 tbsp. coconut oil
1 medium onion thinly sliced
2 jalapeños, seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 heaping tbsp. minced ginger
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tbsp. ras el hanout
2-28 oz. cans diced tomatoes, juice drained
2-16 oz. cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Gluten Free All Purpose Flour
For the Butternut Squash Coconut Curry
2 tsp. coconut oil
1 tbsp. minced ginger
3 tbsp. mild or red curry paste
1/4 tsp. tumeric
1 cup vegetable broth
1-15 oz. can butternut squash
1-15 oz. can coconut milk
1/2-1 tsp. lime juice
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
First, you are going to make the chickpea casserole. Then, while the casserole is cooking, you’ll make the curry. Begin by heating the coconut oil in a large heavy bottomed pot or pan. Add the onion and saute for about 10 minutes. This should give you some down time to prep the rest of the veggies and canned ingredients. While your, chopping the ginger, keep in mind that you’ll be needing more for the curry, might as well take care of it now!
Add the jalapeños, ginger, and cilantro. Saute until the cilantro is wilted and then add the ras el hanout. Toss to coat the veggies and cook for about a minute.
Add the drained tomatoes and chickpeas. Stir until well mixed.
Now, use an immersion blender to partially blend the mixture. You want to do it so that about half of the chickpeas are blended and about half are still intact. (If you don’t have an immersion blender, transfer about half of the mixture to your blender, blend, and return to the original pan.) You want the texture to look something like the picture below.
Stir in the cranberries. Add the Gluten-Free Flour and mix well. Transfer to a 7 x 11 inch casserole dish and cook for 50-55 minutes or until the top is slightly browned and crispy.
Once the casserole is in the oven, it’s time to get started on the curry.
Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat and add the coconut oil. Once the coconut oil is hot, saute the ginger for about a minute. Add the curry paste and turmeric. Allow the mixture to heat up for about a minute and then add the vegetable broth, butternut squash and coconut milk. Mix well and then reduce the heat to simmer. Add the lime juice to taste and continue to cook while the casserole is in the oven.
Cut the casserole into 8-10 pieces. Pour about half a cup of curry into each bowl and then place a piece of the casserole on top. Garnish with cilantro.