Sometimes, like everyone, I need to peruse a cookbook or magazine to find ideas. Often, what it does is jolt me into a direction and then I begin to freewheel from there, adding my own touch and flourishes to the dish. I've learned that my food imagination is similar to painting and sometimes I can approach cooking like a blank canvas and other days I need to sketch something out first. Another person's recipe, to me, is a sketch. This sketch came from a great book I have from Chef Ana Sortun and is based on the principles of an Armenian or Turkish chickpea and potato terrine called topik. My version, took that idea and turned it into "Sweet Potato-Chickpea Pie with Spinach, Cranberries and Apricots". Here's a look at a slice of the "pie".
1 tsp. ground allspice
2. Drain the chickpeas well, whether canned or you've just soaked and boiled them according to dry package directions. Pour the chickpeas into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Remove the sweet potato from its water, when soft and drain, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid. Place the sweet potato back into the dry saucepan and mash gently with a fork, adding the butter. Season with a pinch of kosher salt and black pepper, to taste. Scrape the mashed sweet potato into the bowl of the food processor with the chickpeas. Process the sweet potatoes and chickpeas until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Add 1-2 T. of the sweet potato cooking liquid and process another minute, until very smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary. Scrape out the mixture and spread on a dish or platter to completely cool.
3. In a large saute pan add the olive oil and bring to medium high heat. Saute the onion until it's soft and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in the spinach and cook for about 5 minutes, until tender. Stir in the garlic and cranberries and cook until they begin to soften. Squeeze in the tangelo or tangerine juice and stir thoroughly. Immediately add the apricots and ginger, then stir again. Add the spices, in sequence, stirring and shaking the pan to evenly distribute the spices. Taste and add any additional salt or pepper that's needed and adjust spices according to preference. Remove from the heat and let cool completely.
4. Preheat and oven to 350˚F. Spray a pie pan (preferable use a ceramic one or something that can go from oven directly to table) with non-stick cooking spray and spread in a layer half of the sweet potato-chickpea mash. Use the back of a spoon or spatula to even out the first layer. Spoon in the spinach and cranberry mixture, spreading evenly with a spoon. Flatten and press firmly down on the pie. Spoon on the second half of the chickpea mixture and spread evenly as the top layer or "crust" of the pie. Cover with aluminum foil and place in the warm oven.
5. Bake the pie for 20 minutes covered, then remove the foil and bake another 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Cut with a knife into traditional pie-shaped and spoon onto plates. Serve immediately and enjoy with a nice, fruity and bold red wine.