Ceci with Cauliflower, Spinach and Pumpkin Pesto

Because I work at a conservative synagogue, I am forced to "keep it kosher." This can be a real problem for a pork chop loving, shrimp snacking, steak loving carnivore. I know, going vegetarian is healthier and more economical but it's just not going to happen for me at this stage of my life. I won't say never, but I don't see how I can stop the chicken and turkey cravings I have. I love my tofu and have developed an awesome tofu chicken salad dish that is completely vegan, but I want my protein sources from fish, fowl and land roving grazers. However, there is only so much tuna fish I can and should eat even though I eat tuna sans the Hellman's. As for Salmon, it's becoming a fishing liability and the really good wild caught Pacific Salmon is too expensive for my budget. So I make my garden vegetable cakes, bibbity bobbity boo aka Bibimbop and other stir fries, salads, and other vegetable medleys to take to work every day. These meals do get boring after a while and I have to keep the starches and carbs in check too. As I am still going strong on the Weight Watchers treadmill, I try to keep my rice, pasta and potato intake to once a day, which is also difficult. Ah, the life of a non-kosher gay goy on a diet working at a synagogue. Meal time is tricky. Hence, a reason to celebrate my latest creation! Ceci, or Garbanzo or Chick Peas with Cauliflower, Spinach and Pumpkin Pesto over Brown Rice. Another inspired meal from several sources revised as one of my own lightened, healthier and vegetarian versions. I have taken a big short-cut though, the Pumpkin Pesto is from Stonewall Kitchens; makers of fantastic prepared products. Jams, syrups, pestos, and other culinary delights in jars. Liz and I found Pumpkin Pesto when we were at the shore this past summer in a little gourmet kitchen shop down in Cape May, New Jersey. I'd make my own, and would love to do so, but this was handy and so I used the prepared version instead. Some of the ingredients listed in the pesto are: Pumpkin Puree, Pumpkin Seeds, Brown Sugar, Balsamic Vinegar, lemon juice, salt, pepper and Parmesan Cheese. It was a bit on the sweet side. If I made it myself, I'd cut out the brown sugar. Anyway, here's the quick rundown on this recipe:

Ingredients:
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion - small to medium Dice
  • 4 Garlic Cloves - minced
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
  • 1 Tablespoon Italian Seasoning
  • 1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 Can (about 14-16 ounces) Ceci Beans - drained and rinsed
  • 2 Cups Cauliflower Florets
  • 1 Cup Frozen Spinach
  • 1/4 Cup Pumpkin Pesto (such as Stonewall Kitchens brand)
  • Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
  • 2 Cups Cooked Brown Rice - for serving

    Directions:
    1. In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers.
    2. Add in the diced onion and saute for 3-5 minutes, until the onion turns translucent and begins to take on a golden color.
    3. Add in the minced garlic and saute for 1 minute.
    4. Add in the red pepper flakes and the Italian Seasonings, stir to combine.
    5. Pour in the white wine and reduce the liquid until only a few tablespoons remain, about 6 minutes.
    6. Add in the drained and rinsed ceci beans and stir well to combine. Cook the cecis in the onion/garlic mixture for about 5 minutes.
    7. Add in the cauliflower florets and the frozen spinach. Saute until the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes; the spinach will defrost and cook down very quickly as the cauliflower is cooking, and will release additional liquid.
    8. Stir in the pumpkin pesto.Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt and freshly ground pepper.
    9. Serve hot over cooked brown rice. Makes 4 Servings as a side dish, or 2 servings as a main course.

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