Since she had struggled with this idea at such an early age, we were not terribly surprised at her decision to start eating a vegetarian diet. We were a little nervous about it, honestly. While Michael and I applauded our daughter’s decision to stand up for something about which she felt strongly, we worried that she would not get the nutrients she needed, and that we would have to rely too much on processed meat substitutes. We worried about protein, iron, and all those other things that eating meat delivered so conveniently. We made some ground rules; being a vegetarian meant that she had to actually eat vegetables, not just avoid meat, she had to respect the decision of other people who chose to eat meat (in other words, I don’t want to hear any comments when I am eating my veal chop, thank you very much!), and she would have to be flexible and make do when we went to friends’ houses for dinner. She has done really well, and we are always looking for ways to support her. I love it when I find things to prepare for dinner which will not entail preparing two separate meals. There is something very lovely about sitting down as a family to the same meal, or at least a very similar one. This meal works well for us. The carnivores in the family are satisfied to have the garbanzo bean puree with a few slices of meat, and our little veggie girl loves it. I am perfectly happy to have this with or without meat, and it makes enough that we have plenty of leftovers.
This is a dish that is good comfort food in the winter or summer. You can serve it with roasted vegetables or roasted meat. Chicken or lamb work exceptionally well. It keeps well, can be made a few days ahead of time, and is very healthy too.
Garbanzo bean puree:
1 pound dry garbanzo beans, soaked overnight
32 ounces chicken stock plus enough water to cover beans by 2 inches
4 garlic cloves
1 bay leaf
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
Juice of 2 lemons
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Place beans in a stock pot with the chicken stock, water, bay leaf, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, and allow to continue boiling for 4 to 5 minutes. Lower heat to simmer and cover, simmering for about an hour, or until garbanzo beans are very tender. Remove beans, reserving cooking liquid. In 2 batches, puree beans with remaining cloves of garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and enough of the cooking liquid to make it a smooth paste. You can adjust the liquid according to the consistency you like best. This puree is excellent served with roasted vegetable, chicken or lamb.