Green bean and Chickpea “Stew”

Chickpeas to me is comfort food.  My father’s side of the family being Egyptian/Syrian/Turkish, I have grown up eating this grain and it is a staple in my diet.  A couple of months ago I received my favorite magazine in the mail, Saveur, and I came across this recipe.

Initially, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it.  Generally I like my vegetables barely cooked, fresh and crispy.  But this article praised slow cooked veggies.  I figured I would give it a try, thinking that I wasn’t going to be that thrilled with it.  What a surprise!  I fell in love with it.  It is really simple, flavourful, and the one word that comes to mind, is comforting.  It was so reminiscent of the flavour profiles that I grew up with, that instantly I knew I was going to make this dish again and again.

It is quite heavy on the cumin, which I love, but the original recipe calls for an hour of cooking time.  I reduced that to 35 minutes, because I wanted more tomato sauce than Saveur’s.  This is a perfectly simple and delicious meal that can be enjoyed on it’s own with a loaf of crusty bread, à la girl in a food frenzy’s.  But you can always have it as a side dish as well, with something simple, like grilled fish or steak.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Adapted from Saveur Magazine

SERVES 4-6

INGREDIENTS

¼ cup olive oil

2 tsp. cumin seeds

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. paprika
1 ½ lb. green beans, strings removed
1 28-oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes with juice, crushed by hand
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Heat the oil in an 8-qt. saucepan over medium-high heat; add cumin seeds and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute.

2. Add the garlic and onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until soft and lightly browned, about 12 minutes.
3. Add the tomato paste and paprika, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste is lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Add the green beans, tomatoes, chickpeas, and 3 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until very tender, about 35 minutes. Let sit for at least 15 minutes before serving to allow the flavors to meld.

Nicoise Salad

How can you not love this salad?  It’s not really a salad, it’s a complete meal.  Of course, there are thousands of variations of Nicoise, and I don’t pretend mine to be the authentic one.  But, it’s my take, and I loved every bite of it.

When summer rolls around, I crave something that is cold, yet hearty.  But just the connotation of the word hearty to me is warm food.  But I think this is the equivalent of that for summer.  It really is a whole meal on a plate.  My version is chock full of vine ripe “Raff” tomatoes, green beans, new potatoes, red onion, tuna, boiled egg, and chickpeas (yum!), topped with a parsley pesto vinaigrette.  This combination is so satisfying and nourishing.  I truly enjoy making and then gobbling up this “salad” with a nice piece of crusty bread.  And really, it is quite easy to make.  Yes, you have to boil ingredients separately, but if you prepare beforehand, it is simple.

So here’s what you’re going to need:

Serves 2

2 hard-boiled eggs

3 new potatoes

80 g string beans

1 can of tuna, oil packed, drained

1 small red onion, sliced

100 g chickpeas, boiled and cooled. (or from a can or jar)

1 tomato, sliced

For the parsley pesto vinaigrette:

1 large bunch Italian parsley

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

4 tbsp grated Parmiggiano Reggiano

1 tsp lemon juice

1/8 cup olive oil

juice from 1 lemon

Arrange all the ingredients for the salad however you want.  I chose just for the picture to separate them, but it makes a really nice presentation if you have guests over.  You can even bring it out to the table without dressing, and then add the parsley pesto.

In a blender, pulse the parsley, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, the garlic, salt and pine nuts until a fine paste.  Then add the parmesan and lemon juice.  Sprinkle about 2 tbsp of this over the veggies, and then dress with the rest of the olive oil and lemon juice.  Toss to coat.

Reserve the rest of the pesto to use on bruschetta, fish, pasta, whatever your heart desires!

I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I do, and you can feel good, because its super duper healthy!

From my kitchen to yours,

Carla