Thursday, January 28, 2010

Three Kickass Chickpea Recipes

When we lived in Barcelona, Karen and I visited the market every day. Our favorite destination, La Boqueria, was the pride of local Catalans. We loved to browse the stalls, to smell the imported fruits and vegetables, stopping at pleasure to sample a slice of carambola, a handful of plump red grapes, or a small piece of bacalao (salted codfish).

So Many Mushrooms

Karen and I, however, opted to do our real shopping elsewhere. For produce we stopped at the modest open air stalls just outside La Boqueria on the Placa de Sant Galdric, where each morning local farmers pulled their trucks right up to the curb and unloaded boxes of fruits and vegetables onto the pavement. At noon, when most of the food was eaten on the spot or bought by loyal customers, the farmers swept the refuse lettuce greens, onion peels, and fruit rinds into a big pile in the middle of the square. They left the green mountain for the birds and a set of healthy bums who seemingly subsisted on nothing but scraps.

For everything else we shopped at the market right across the street from our flat in Sant Antoni, the Sant Antoni market. Here we'd buy a pound of wild salmon, I remember fondly, for two dollars. At Sant Antoni, too, we found the world's absolute greatest chickpeas.

Walk into the market right off our street, Tamarit, and turn left: there you'll find the world's greatest chickpeas. I'd often buy a pound or more and eat them, simply dressed with olive oil and sea salt, for lunch. The chickpeas were cooked to perfection in giant pressure cookers: they were astonishingly creamy and every single chickpea tasted luxurious, as if each was lovingly enrobed in butter.

Sometimes I'd make a chickpea stew, with wild salmon or cod--still a staple of my wife's diet. Actually, the recipes below have been staples of me and my wife's diets for years. I use canned chickpeas. Home-cooked chickpeas are frustratingly hard to make. They can take hours to cook and sometimes they seem to never, ever cook through. A good pressure cooker is the best, but it's a bit of a pain in the ass. The best chickpeas I've found, besides Sant Antoni's, are Eden Food's. I use Eden's beans whenever I cook with any beans--they are FAR superior to any other brand. (Don't give me some stupid shit about Goya: Goya adds unnecessary additives to its products; Goya sucks).

Moroccan Braised Chickpeas and Chard

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 tablespoon preserved lemon, chopped
1/2 teaspoon saffron, soaked in 1 tablespoon hot water
1 Parmigiano Reggiano rind, optional
2 15 ounce cans cooked chickpeas (do not drain)
1 cup water
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and center ribs removed, and leaves coarsely chopped
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and a pinch of sea salt; sauté until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and sauté one minute. Add cumin and paprika and sauté one minute. Add preserved lemon, saffron, Parmigiano rind, and chickpeas with reserved liquid from the chickpea can, and water. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 15 minutes, until luxuriously fragrant. Add the Swiss chard leaves and simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes.

Season to taste with extra sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

Serve warm with crusty bread, roasted potatoes, or rice.


Chickpea Soup with Saffron and Mushroom-Almond Garnish

I originally published this recipe

For Soup:

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
½ pound Fingerling Potatoes, sliced into ¼ inch rounds
1/2 cup dry white wine
6 cups vegetable broth
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
2 15 ounce cans cooked chickpeas, drained
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

For Garnish:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups crimini or white-button mushrooms, quartered
½ cup toasted almonds, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; sauté until tender, about 6-8 minutes. Add saffron and stir one minute. Add potatoes, increase heat to medium-high and sauté for 4-6 minutes, until potatoes are browned. Add wine and scrape any brown bits that have accumulated at the bottom of the pan.

Add vegetable broth, chickpeas, and parsley and bring to boil.

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Allow soup to cool. In a blender puree two cups soup. Add puree back into soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for five minutes to warm.

Meanwhile, make garnish: Warm oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and lemon juice and sauté until mushrooms release their juices, 4-6 minutes. Toss with almonds and parsley, sauté for one minute, and set aside.

To serve soup: ladle a cup into each bowl and spoon a few tablespoons mushroom-almond garnish on top.


Cod and Chickpea Stew

I originally published this recipe
here. I make this dish for my wife almost every week.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 teaspoon saffron, soaked in 1 tablespoon hot water
2 cups canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 pound cod, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup vegetable broth or water

In a wide, heavy sauté pan, warm oil over medium heat. Add onion and pepper and sauté until onions are translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add paprika and cumin and sauté for 1 minute. Add wine and saffron. Stir well. Add chickpeas, cod and vegetable broth. Simmer until fish is just cooked through and just flakes with a fork, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm.


Steve said...

I feel pressure cookers and their distant cousins, crockpots, are the antithesis of "pain in the ass".

What's difficult about throwing in raw, uncooked food and setting a timer?

We use a crockpot for shabbos almost every week. I'd be lost without it.

Seth Pollins said...

I agree: pressure cookers are awesome. It's just that I don't always have success with dried chickpeas: I'll bring down the pressure and they won't be done; then I'll bring up the pressure again, and the steam will shoot in my eye and nearly kill me.

Crockpots disgust me.

Steve said...

Crockpot snobbery disgusts me.

Unknown said...

crockpots are the minibistro of the proletariat...take that however you like...

Milky @ women said...