Saturday, April 21, 2012

Chickpeas and Chard with Cilantro and Cumin

Cooking for the (sort of) in-laws. Eek. D's aunt and uncle were in town last week two weeks ago (hence the lack of posting even thought I had an entire week off--and then my computer broke for a bit, but it's all OK now) and I made them dinner for them on Tuesday night. I had promised to make them a meal from the cookbook they got me for Christmas.

I was originally going to make a completely different recipe for them, but you know, things happened. As they often do. D forgot to tell me that his aunt was allergic to dairy (except for butter...? I don't know either. I figured it was best to leave that one alone and give the wait staff at restaurants and apologetic smile). That meant the Lemony Risotto Croquettes I had planned to make were out. Then a lazy Sunday dinner was rescheduled due to a 3:30 PM brunch. And my leisurely cooking time was condensed by the Tuesday night pre-theater scheduling (go see Being Shakespeare before it closes!). So I chose a relatively simple, vegan meal. I had the leftovers later in the week for breakfast with a poached egg on top. I think my theme for April may be "Put an Egg on It"...

Like most recipes from this cookbook, I really liked the clear explanations of what to cook when so all of the components end up being done at the same time. That, and the wine recommendations for each recipe. When I tasted it at the end though, it was a little flat. I added some lemon juice and a bit more salt and the flavors really popped. If I were to make this recipe again, I would probably omit the salt and add a tablespoon or so of chopped preserved lemon to the garlic/herb paste.

This recipe has been submitted to Hearth & Soul Blog Hop.

Chickpeas and Chard with Cilantro and Cumin
Adapted from Vegetarian Suppers by Deborah Madison

1 large onion, finely chopped
a pinch of saffron (I omitted this...I didn't have any on hand)
2 T olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 c cilantro leaves
1/4 c parsley
1 t cumin (or more to taste. We're big cumin fans, so I used about 1 1/2-2 teaspoons)
2 t tomato paste
2 bunches chard with stems (about 14 chard leaves)
2 15-oz cans chickpeas (or 3 c home cooked)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Heat about a generous tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and saffron. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 minutes. The onions should be golden, soft, and fragrant. While the onions are cooking, crush the garlic, cilantro, parsley, and cumin with 1/2 t of salt until it forms a rough paste (you can either use a mortar and pestle or the "chop and crush" method. Also, this is where I would have omitted the salt and added the preserved lemon). Add the garlic-herb paste and the tomato paste and work into the onions. Remove from heat.

Destem the chard (I had some kitchen help doing this while I was pasting the garlic. If I were cooking alone I probably would have done all of this chopping first and cooked the leaves while the onions were finishing up). Cook the leaves in a wide pot with about 2 c of water. Cook, covered, until wilted and tender (about 5 minutes). Remove the leaves from the water, but reserve the cooking water. Squeeze out any remaining liquid and coarsely chop.

Finely dice the chard stems. Simmer these in the reserved cooking water until tender, about 10 minutes.

Add chickpeas to the onion with either 1 c of cooking liquid, water, or stock. Add the chopped chard and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the stems. Add the lemon juice. Stir and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and additional cumin. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and serve.

Serves 4


  1. "Put an egg on it" haha! I do this with leftovers too. Especially for lunch. I'm always wondering what to do and then I decide to just put a fried egg on top. :) Your recipe sounds lovely. My family would love this because we are huge fans of cumin. Thanks so much for sharing with the Hearth and Soul!

    1. It's really the best thing to do with leftovers. They're somehow infinitely better with a fried or poached egg on top.

  2. This sounds like a really lovely spicy treat, and it has such wholesome ingredients! It would be so lovely with a poached egg on top too.

  3. Your recipe has been featured on my blog for Hearth and Soul today. Thanks again for sharing! :)


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