I love Asian food, but being vegetarian makes it a little difficult from time to time to get takeout. While there are vegetable options, they can be less than interesting and sometimes bland.
This is one of those times when a vegan dish is so delicious it tastes better than the real thing. You can satisfy your craving for kung pao chicken — minus the meat — by swapping flavorful chickpeas for chicken in this classic Chinese dish.
I gave the chickpeas lots of flavor by using kung pao sauce, which has a sweet-but-spicy flavor. Serve these yummy chickpeas over steamed rice, and top with crushed cashews or peanuts for a super-flavorful meat-free dinner.
Kung pao chickpeas recipe
Inspired by The Veg Life
For the chickpea marinade
- 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 lime, juiced and zested
- 1 tablespoon agave or honey
- 1 tablespoon organic coconut oil, melted
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder or cornstarch
For the chickpeas
- 2 tablespoons organic coconut oil
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup bottled all-natural kung pao sauce (or homemade)
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 (1-inch) knob fresh ginger, grated
- 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes or crushed red pepper
For the garnish
- 1 small bunch green onions, thinly sliced
- 1 – 2 spicy red jalapeños or Thai chili peppers
- Cashews, for garnish (optional)
- Steamed white rice, for serving
- In a bowl, combine all the ingredients for the marinade. Add the chickpeas to the marinade, and stir well to coat.
- Cover the chickpeas, and allow them to marinate for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
- To a large pan over medium heat, add the coconut oil, the marinated chickpeas and the remaining ingredients for the chickpeas.
- Sauté for about 6 – 8 minutes, until the chickpeas begin to caramelize and brown slightly.
- Remove from the heat, and allow the chickpeas to cool slightly.
- Serve the warm chickpeas over steamed white rice, and garnish with sliced peppers, cilantro, cashews and green onions.
A version of this article was originally published in August 2014.