Well, it’s the New Year (Chinese, at least), and I’ve been more or less keeping to my resolution to eat healthier in 2013. This has meant cutting out late night McDonald’s visits (sadness) and, well, early afternoon McDonald’s runs visits (more sadness), but not all has been lost. In the place of delicious Big Macs have been a variety of veggie-oriented meals, many of which have stemmed from Yotam Ottolenghi’s magnificent Jerusalem: The Cookbook as well as his previous tome, Plenty. It’s from the latter book where I found a recipe for Chickpea Sauté with Greek Yogurt. You see, I had just returned from the Hollywood Farmer’s Market where I had spontaneously purchased two bundles of rainbow chard. This was not normal behavior for me, but strange things have been happening in 2013 (healthy eating, watching American Idol again, bought a knit cap — everything is topsy turvy).
Anyway, the sudden influx of chard meant I could do two things: a) find a way to use the chard, and b) come up with several chard puns. Sure enough, it was a good day to die chard because the aforementioned Chickpea Sauté recipe called for mass amounts of chard, and that’s exactly what I had. But could this recipe truly thrill me like two all beef patties with special sauce? Or would I be facing the cold chard facts that veggie food simply isn’t as good as the greasy stuff?
Answers after the jump…
First things first: I separate the chard leaves from the stems, which as you can see, come in a variety of colors.
Next I toss the stems into boiling water for a few minutes. As they are tougher than the leaves, the stems need something of a head start in the blanching process.
Next come the leaves, which require some serious wilting in order to fit into my humble pot.
Amazingly, the chard does finally cook down, and after a few minutes, I drain the whole shebang and leave it to luxuriate in my colander.
Meanwhile, it’s on to the other veggies: on the left is minced garlic, chopped mint, and chopped cilantro. On the right are two carrots and two parsnips, diced. The recipe calls for all carrots, but as luck would have it, I only had two. Plus, I randomly had these parsnips hanging around; so I figured the substitution would be acceptable — both culinarily and morally, if not emotionally.
I place the carrots and parsnips in a bowl along with the secret ingredient: caraway seeds! You weren’t expecting that, were you?
Meanwhile, the chard gets a rough chop. I wanted to apologize to the beautiful leaves, but sorry seems to be the CHARDEST word.
Chickpeas are officially ready for action.
Time to get cooking. I sauté the carrots, parsnips, and caraway in olive oil for about five minutes, or until everybody is nice and tender (like me).
We have achieved tenderness.
Next I toss a cup and a half of chickpeas into the mix. If this were food porn, I believe the music would sound like “bow chickpea bow wow.”
The chard then joins the party. Memo to self: use a deep pot next time.
Why use a deep pot? Well, because we must stir and toss this mess, especially after we add in the garlic, the cilantro, and the mint — not to mention lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Luckily, I persevere.
After adding the herbs and (perilously) tossing it all together, I pour everything into a lovely serving dish. This picture doesn’t quite capture just how much this recipe yields.
One final touch: a yogurt sauce made from combining plain Greek yogurt with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Huzzah! My healthy lunch!
People, this dish is amazing. It’s shocking, really. Each component serves a vital role: the beans give it substance, the chard give it body, the carrots and parsnips lend sweetness, the lemon juice brings sourness, the herbs add freshness, and the yogurt… well… the yogurt is what ties it all together magnificently. Not only is it tangy and creamy, but it elevates the dish from just a tasty veggie offering to an amazingly delicious MEAL. And let’s not overlook those caraway seeds. They bring an unexpected depth of flavor to the party that complements both the sweetness of the root veggies and the tartness of the yogurt. This is serious stuff.
If you want to make this dish, be sure to check out the recipe here.