The first time I made the creamy almond sauce in the recipe below, I was practically giddy with excitement - so sumptuously rich and tasty, and it was easy to make and healthful, too - score! I discovered the sauce in cookbook author Nik Sharma's excellent book "The Flavor Equation," where he pairs it with lamb koftas. The aromatic, seasoned meatballs smothered in the almond sauce were heavenly, and I'm looking forward to making that dish again, but I couldn't stop thinking about the bazillion different ways I wanted to use the sauce itself - a miraculous mix of sauteed seasonings, almond flour, water and a splash of lemon juice. Since the sauce is so protein-rich, it seemed a prime way to level up a vegetarian meal, and this recipe is proof of that concept.

It starts with a blend of dried spices, echoing the flavors in Sharma's original recipe - turmeric, coriander, chili powder, garlic and ginger. You use one half of the spice mix to toss with cauliflower, carrots and bell peppers before roasting them, and the other half for the sauce, where the mix is warmed in a skillet with a sauteed onion and the almond flour, to activate their flavors. Then you add water and watch the transformation as the sauce comes to a boil. As Sharma explains in his book, the combination of carbohydrate and fiber in the finely ground almonds creates a beautifully thick, creamy texture. He recommends using blanched almond flour for a smoother result, because the nut's skins are removed in the blanching process.

For this recipe, once the sauce is done, you add the roasted vegetables to the skillet, along with a can of chickpeas and a splash of lemon juice, and cook for a few minutes, letting everything come together.

Served garnished with fresh mint leaves, it's a richly satisfying, lusciously saucy, plant-based meal. (Note: Nik Sharma was a guest on my podcast "One Real Good Thing" talking about building flavor healthfully. Listen wherever you like to get your podcasts.)

Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas in Creamy Almond Sauce

From cookbook author and registered dietitian nutritionist Ellie Krieger.

45 minutes

4 servings

The sauce for this dish, inspired by a recipe in "The Flavor Equation," by Nik Sharma, is a brilliant mix of aromatic spices, almond flour, water and a splash of lemon juice – and comes together easily to form a rich, creamy gravy. Simmered briefly with a colorful array of roasted vegetables and chickpeas, and served garnished with fresh mint leaves, it's a satisfyingly saucy, protein-rich, plant-based meal.

To save on time, prep the ingredients that follow the olive oil while the vegetables are roasting.

Make ahead: The vegetables can be roasted up to 3 days in advance.

Storage notes: Refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Ingredients

1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

3/4 teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

6 cups cauliflower florets (1 1/2 inches; about 20 ounces)

4 medium carrots (10 ounces total), peeled and cut on the bias into 1/2-inch-thick pieces

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

1 medium yellow onion (8 ounces), minced

1/2 cup almond flour

1 1/4 cups water, plus more as needed

One (15-ounce) can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

Directions

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, whisk together the coriander, turmeric, chili powder, ginger, garlic, salt and pepper until combined.

In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, carrots and bell pepper. Sprinkle with about half of the spice mixture, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the oil and toss to coat evenly. Transfer the vegetables to a large, rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 to 22 minutes, or until the vegetables are firm-tender and lightly browned in spots, stirring once or twice while they cook.

When the vegetables are about 5 minutes away from being done, in a large, deep skillet over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining spice mixture and the almond flour and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the water, increase the heat to high and bring to a boil. Stir in the roasted vegetables and the chickpeas and return the mixture to a boil. Add more water, if needed, 1/4 cup at a time, to maintain a saucy consistency. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste with additional salt, if desired. Divide among shallow bowls, garnish with the mint and serve.

Nutrition information per serving (1 1/2 cups) | Calories: 394; Total Fat: 23 g; Saturated Fat: 3 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 555 mg; Carbohydrates: 41 g; Dietary Fiber: 13 g; Sugar: 13 g; Protein: 12 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian's or nutritionist's advice.

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