May 8, 2008

Spicy Chickpeas with Swiss Chard

This dish was born from necessity but perfected by accident. I needed to use an already started can of chickpeas and some swiss chard that had begun to wear out its welcome in the crisper. I accidentally added way more crushed red pepper than I normally think I can handle. See, that little plastic cap with the holes in it that comes on most bottles of spices needs to be replaced if ever removed. Yes, well, on the one hand I learned that lesson the hard way but on the other hand, what a deliciously spicy lesson to learn.

This dish is really easy, comes together quickly and is packed with flavor - not to mention fiber, protein, and folate from the chickpeas, and all the wonderful vitamins in swiss chard.

1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 bunch swiss chard
1/2-1 cup water
1/2 large onion, sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, chopped
extra virgin olive oil
crushed red pepper flakes
pinch ground cumin

Rinse and drain the chickpeas and set aside. Wash the swiss chard and shake off all the excess water. The stems are perfectly edible but sometimes the thickest part is jut too fibrous so remove it. Also remove any weirdness on the chard - dark parts, wilted parts, etc. Chop coarsely and leave in a large strainer to continue drip drying.

Over medium-high heat saute your onions and garlic until they are soft. You don't need them to brown so the first sign of color is your clue to add the chickpeas, coarse salt and a pinch of cumin. At this point you should also add a healthy sprinkling of crushed red pepper. Challenge yourself to see how much heat you can take. For me I had no choice but once I tasted the results I only wanted to eat more of this dish in spite of my tingling lips. Cook this for just a minute or so then add the chard. Use a pair of tongs to grab and lift and turn the chard in order to coat all of it in the oil and juices of the cooking veggies. I like for the chard to cook for about a minute and then add water, starting with half of a cup. Cover the pan and reduce the heat and simmer.

Check it in five minutes and add a bit more water if needed. I cook mine for about 10 minutes unless the stalks are really thick. I like the stalks to have a slight crunch. Just test things as you go. Once the texture of the chard is to your liking, you're done. Fill a bowl and have at it. You might even find that it isn't spicy enough!

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