Miz Chef

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Fresh Chickpeas with Kale, Sweet Onions and Rice

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It wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I knew that fresh chickpeas—in the pod—could even be had. One day, I entered an Indian market in Jackson Heights, and there was a bin of what looked like little individual pea pods, shorter and squatter. What are these, I wondered?

The handwritten sign at the top of the bin said chana. I knew that chana meant chickpeas. What?! No way. I picked one up, popped it, and there it was. A fresh, firm, beautiful chickpea. I bought a bunch and cooked my very first batch of chickpeas right out of the shell. It was all very exciting.fresh chickeas in pod

But fresh chickpeas (also known as garbanzos) are not available all the time. In fact, they can only be found in spring. So when I saw them again, I bought some for myself and my mom (I knew she’d love them).

When you have fresh beans like this, not much needs to, or should, be done to them. Fresh beans are meaty, savory, nutty, and have a great feel in the mouth. Plump and pale green, chickpeas are packed with protein, and are a good source of vitamin C, calcium, and iron. They’ve been shown to be a great food to help fight diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, and inflammation, and promote healthy digestion.IMG_5976

Between the chickpeas and the kale, this dish is not only filling and delicious, but healthy, substantial, and physically satisfying. The addition of the rice (whatever kind you like), rounds it out for a truly filling meal.

Enjoy!

Fresh Chickpeas with Kale, Sweet Onions and Rice

Makes 2 servings

2 teaspoons olive oil
3 large garlic cloves, minced
½ teaspoon paprika
1 cup fresh chickpeas
1 cup chopped sweet onion
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup vegetable broth
3 cups chopped kale
1 cup cooked rice
¼ cup grated parmigiana (optional)

In a wide skillet, heat the oil with the garlic. When the garlic is fragrant, add the paprika and chickpeas. Sauté 5 minutes.IMG_5981Add the onion and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Continue sautéing until the onion is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.IMG_5983Pour in the broth, then add the kale and remaining salt. Cover and cook until kale is tender, about another 5 to 7 minutes. Stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning, if needed.IMG_5984IMG_5986Transfer vegetables to 2 bowls and stir ½ cup rice into each. Top with a little parmigiano, if desired.IMG_5992

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Spanish Spinach & Chickpeas

IMG_5396I was in Seattle this past week and as it usually is when I return from a trip, I found myself with an empty fridge. Well, what I consider empty, anyway. So, I went to the produce market to see what vegetables looked good. I was surprised to be irresistibly drawn to some spinach.

I say surprised because, although I like spinach, I don’t exactly go wild for it. But this particular store had bunches of spinach on sale for $1. And they were nice-looking bunches, too. Not wilted or dried, but fresh and green. So, I bought a couple of bunches.

After giving a little thought to what I might want to do with it, I quickly decided that I wanted to make a Spanish tapa staple: Espinaca con Garbanzos. Or Spinach with Chickpeas.

What makes this dish delectable is the bread crumbs, which turns the flavorful, garlicky spinach liquid into a thick, scoopable sauce. If you are gluten intolerant, you can use gluten-free bread crumbs. You can change the flavor profile very easily by adding any kind of spices you like. And best of all, this is a low-cal, low-fat, high-nutrient dish that is savory and comforting all at once.
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Chickpeas and Beet Salad

IMG_1024Despite the fact that I have less and less time to cook for myself these days, when I walk past the farmer’s market, I’m seduced by the beautiful vegetables. So, then I find myself with vegetables that I have no time to cook, but must.

This week, I had beets. The beets were firm and bright and the leaves were full and green. I couldn’t help myself. But I had to deal with them quickly. So, I went to my go-to beet recipe: Chickpea and Beet Salad. It’s simple, it’s fast (once the beets are cooked), and it’s satisfying.

The greens? My go-to greens recipe: sautéed in olive oil and garlic.

The reason for my lack of time? Well, apart from my work/commute issue, I have multiple projects happening at the same time. One of those is volume 2 of Vegetarian Italian: Traditions, which is finally under way after a very long delay at my publisher. It’s slated for release in April 2016. With any luck, that will be the case.

This beet recipe, by the way, appears in volume 1 of Vegetarian Italian: Traditions, and it’s just one of many delectable dishes straight from the Mediterranean. Continue reading


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Beet-Kale-Garbanzo Salad

Beet-Kale-Garbanzo Salad

Chickpea (garbanzo) and beet salad is not a new thing. In fact, a recipe for it is in my cookbook, Vegetarian Italian: Traditions, Volume 1. But, see, I had this kale that I needed to use, and I had just roasted up these fresh beets that I’d purchased at the Greenmarket.

So, this particular chickpea and beet salad is a mutated version of my old recipe, encompassing the little “extras” in my fridge. It’s really simple and can easily be seasoned to suit anyone’s taste.

Beet-Kale-Garbanzo Salad

2 medium beets
1 cup kale leaves, washed and chopped
½ cup cooked garbanzos
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup cured olives (any kind)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Wrap the beets in aluminum foil and place on a baking sheet. Roast until tender when pierced with a knife, about 45 minutes. (The time will vary, depending on the size and freshness of the beets. You will have to unwrap the foil to check it.)

Remove from oven, unwrap the foil, and let cool. When cook enough to handle, peel the beets with a paring knife (the skin will pull right off). You may want to wear gloves to keep your fingers from turning red. Chop and place in a medium bowl.

Add kale, garbanzos, oil, and balsamic and mix. Season with salt and pepper to your liking and mix again. Gently mix in the olives.

Serves 2.