Monday, February 18, 2013

Roasted Chickpeas with Swiss Chard

I’ve recently noticed nice displays of bulk supply goods at our local supermarkets. This is particularly helpful for when I prepare my granolas because I want to try different combinations all of the time.
However, they also have bulk quantities of quinoa, couscous, nuts, dried fruits, brown rice, rolled oats… just a lot of wonderful things that you should have big bags of in your pantry. My recent investment was in garbanzo beans, also known as chickpeas.
Garbanzos are probably known to most of you as the main ingredient to hummus, the Mediterranean dip comprised of Tahini (almond paste), garbanzos and olive oil. I personally love hummus, but I wanted to explore some more options with these glorious little beans. In Spain, we would slow cook them in a soup all day with onions, bell peppers, pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika), and usually broth from whatever stock you had laying around the house. Still, I was looking for more inspiration…
I found my answer at the Douglass Loop Farmers Market, where I am often inspired on Saturday mornings to cover new culinary terrain. I bought the most gorgeous bushel of leafy green Swiss chard, and my mind was blown! Coincidentally enough, Epicurious had just the recipe for me, combining the Swiss chard with roasted garbanzos–a totally new way to approach garbanzo beans. The result was an unprecedented silkiness, achieved by the gentle roast of the garbanzos in golden olive oil and aromatics. I never thought that I would taste garbanzos like this. Then pairing them with Swiss chard, which was stewed on the stove with garlic and aromatics, and you have a delightful surprise awaiting. This bowl of joy was enough to satiate my appetite as a main course, and the leftovers just got better every day. I think this would be a wonderful filling for pita or as part of a salad, or served next to braised cabbage and a carrot slaw, like I did.
Roasted Garbanzos with Swiss Chard

3 C Garbanzo beans, rehydrated
1 Head of garlic, smashed and peeled
3 Bay leaves
2 Shallots, peeled and separated
Olive oil
1 Bunch Swiss chard
1/2 Head of garlic
2 Shallots, chopped
White wine
Chili powder

To start, you need to handle the garbanzo situation. I recommend starting with dried garbanzos because they yield a better taste and texture (you can use canned garbanzos too). Just think of garbanzos as any other dried beans. They require a good healthy soaking overnight, or the quick soak method, which involves boiling and changing water, but the overnight soak, all of the way up to 24 hours, is your best bet. Rinse and drain.
The easiest way to peel garlic is to smash it with the side of your knife and remove the skin. Crushed garlic can then be minced or sliced or whatever, but for this recipe you can just throw in the entire smashed cloves and be fine. Combine the garbanzos, garlic, shallots, and enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a 9”x13” glass casserole dish. Make sure it is a flavorful olive oil. Toss all of the ingredients together, cover the dish with foil, and throw it in a preheated 350º oven. You can tell it is finished when the garlic has roasted itself to softness. I stirred it a couple of times just to make sure everything was evenly roasting–my oven has a few hot spots.

While the beans are roasting in the oven, you can prepare your Swiss chard. Heat some olive oil over medium heat in a large pot and add the garlic, shallots, and bay leaf. Cook until fragrant and just on the verge of translucence. At this point, I decided it would be a good idea to deglaze the pan and basically steam the chard with white wine…this was an incredible idea! So, before adding the wine I took as much Swiss chard as I could fit (it is too much to add the entire bunch at once, so you have to wait until it shrinks down a bit), and tossed it around in the pot until the leaves were decently coated. Then I added the wine and put a lid on it for about a minute. The chard shrunk as expected, and I was able to add the remainder and continue cooking until everything was soft and tender. I chopped up the stem and all, because it is edible and delicious, you just have to cook them until they are easy to chew–by the time that was accomplished, everything was ready!

When the beans are finished, remove them from the roasting pan with a slotted spoon and transfer to the Swiss chard mixture. You should have extra oil left in the roasting pan. Take the shallots and garlic along with it, but remove the bay leaves (from the Swiss chard as well). Reheat in the pot with the Swiss chard and add a few spoons of oil from the roasting pan if needed. Finally, season with salt and chili powder (or black pepper) and you are set to sail!
Bon Appétit!

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