Friday, August 8, 2008

"Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants"

In my sustainable cooking classes, I always advise people to follow this haiku-like admonition of Michael Pollan. While no one would ever confuse me with a vegetarian (my tag line is "I've never met a pork product that I didn't like."), I do try to incorporate some vegetarian dishes into my cooking repertoire, which is why I get so excited when I find a straight vegetarian dish that is satisfying and "meaty" in flavor.

From Deborah Madison's wonderful book, Vegetarian Suppers, comes Chickpea and Chard with Cilantro & Cumin. Here is the recipe with my personal adaptations.

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
pinch or 2 saffron threads
2 garlic cloves
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 cup cilantro leaves
1/4 cup parsley leaves
3 basil leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons tomato paste or 1 plum tomato, finely diced
2 medium bunches Swiss chard
2 15 ounce cans chick peas with liquid
1 tablespoon white wine

METHODS: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and saffron and saute until the onions are lightly browned, approximately 15 minutes. In the meantime, coarsely grind the parsley, cilantro, basil garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, salt and pepper to taste in a food processor or mortar and pestle. Wash the swiss chard, remove the stems and slice into 1 1/2 inch ribbons. Put them in a large pot with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove the leaves from the water and drain. Finely chop the stems and add to the water. Cook for 10 minutes. Add the herb mixture and tomato paste or tomatoes to the onions, cook for 5 minutes. Add chickpeas with their liquid, the swiss chard leaves and white wine and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the stems and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serves 4.

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