Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Warm Chickpeas and Greens With Vinaigrette
In the mountainous regions of Provence, frugal farmers make a meal of chickpeas and spinach or chard. They cook the greens in a big pot of water, then use the same water for cooking the chickpeas. While the chickpeas simmer, the farmers make a vinaigrette and use that to season the chickpeas and greens.
1 pound spinach or Swiss chard (1 bunch), stemmed and thoroughly cleaned
1/2 pound (1 1/8 cups) chickpeas, soaked for at least six hours in 2 quarts water
A bouquet garni made with a bay leaf, a couple of sprigs each of parsley and thyme, and a Parmesan rind
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced or pureed
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 small red onion, chopped, soaked in cold water for five minutes and drained (optional)
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil while you stem and wash the spinach or chard. Fill a bowl with ice water. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, add the greens. Cook spinach no longer than one minute. Cook chard one to two minutes. Remove from the pot with a skimmer, and transfer to the ice water. Do not drain the water. Cool the greens for a couple of minutes in the ice water, and then drain and squeeze out excess water. Chop coarsely and set aside. Allow the pot of water to cool for about 15 minutes.
2. Drain the soaked chickpeas, and add to the pot along with the bouquet garni. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for one hour. Add salt to taste, and continue to simmer until the beans are tender, 30 minutes to an hour.
3. Drain the chickpeas through a strainer or colander set over a bowl. Return the broth to the pot if you wish to serve it as a light soup. Whisk together the lemon juice, vinegar, minced garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and the olive oil. Combine the cooked chickpeas, greens, parsley and red onion in a bowl, and toss with the dressing. Serve warm.
Variation: If you wish to serve the chickpea broth with the salad, bring to a simmer and season to taste with garlic, salt and pepper. Toast six slices of whole wheat country bread, and rub them with a cut clove of garlic. Place a slice in each bowl, and ladle in some broth. Top with grated Gruyère and serve.
Yield: Serves four.
Advance preparation: You can cook the chickpeas and greens a day or two ahead. Keep in the refrigerator, and reheat on top of the stove. Make the dressing shortly before serving.