Moorish-Style Chickpeas and Kale
October 29, 2011
There is something magical about a recipe that can turn the simplest ingredients into something remarkable. A recipe that causes one to dig through the dish looking for the secret ingredient, the one that turns an otherwise plain looking pile of beans and greens into something worth looking forward to. This is such a recipe. A deceptively simple list of parts come together into a whole that is bursting with flavor, texture, and depth. If you pay any heed to the opinions of my son (and you should because eating is his favorite pastime- lucky for me), you should know that he likes this dish “to infinity!”
My husband brought this recipe home. It was a rare valuable fruit from his long hours spent on the road, commuting and listening to the radio. All Things Considered on NPR ran a series on how to feed a family for under $10. This dish may look like college potluck fare (at least if you went to school in Oregon like I did), but the tastes are elevated well beyond. Playing a lead role are the garlic cloves which are browned in ample olive oil, then mashed with bread fried in the same garlicky oil. The toasted bread, sweet rich garlic, along with notes of saffron and cumin turn this simple dish into one worth planning a meal around. The recipe below is modified from the original in a couple of ways. Most notably, I subbed in kale for the recommended spinach. Kale holds up well if you choose to make this a bit in advance, it is also more available this time of year. I have made it with spinach as well though and it is delicious. The bean cooking method is simplified a bit and salt measurements are added. This dish is a one-pot wonder that necessitates no sides, but do not forget a nice glass of wine to wash it down.
Moorish-Style Chickpeas and Kale
2 cups dried garbanzos (chickpeas)
Pinch baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
6 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices white sliced bread, with the crusts removed
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1 pinch saffron
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 bunch of kale (cut into ribbons- 1/4 inch thick, about 4 cups packed)
Salt and white pepper to taste
Place chickpeas in a bowl. Fill bowl with water so that the beans are 2 inches under water. Add one pinch baking soda. Soak overnight.
Drain beans and place in a medium pot. Cover with fresh water by 1 inch. Bring pot to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low and partially cover. Simmer beans for 45 minutes or until tender. If the water evaporates exposing the beans, add more water until they are submerged. Drain beans through a colander over a bowl. Reserve cooking liquid and beans.
In the same saucepan that you cooked the beans, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the whole garlic cloves. Cook until the garlic cloves are brown. The time on this will vary depending on the freshness of the garlic. It took my fresh garlic 10 minutes to brown, but older garlic will brown faster. Keep an eye on it. If the garlic gets too brown it will taste bitter. Once brown, remove the garlic and reserve. Add the slices of bread and cook, flipping once, until bread is golden brown. Grind the browned bread with the garlic in a food processor or mortar and pestle until it forms a paste. Set aside.
Into the garlic oil over low heat, add the saffron, paprika, and cumin. Add the sherry vinegar immediately to prevent the spices from burning. Add cooked chickpeas (if you are using canned chickpeas, add them here) and 1 1/2 cup of the reserved bean cooking liquid). Bring to a low boil and add the kale ribbons. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the garlic/bread paste and stir to create a thick, stewy sauce. Simmer another 5 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper to taste. If the stew is too thick, add a little more of the reserved cooking liquid- 1/4 cup at a time until it is the consistency you want. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Serve.
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