Chickpea and chard ragout

Sharing this chickpea and chard ragout recipe makes me happy, because it embodies some of the best qualities of Greek cuisine: simple, wholesome, healthy and delicious.

I classify it under the category of fast food, not because it is an instant dinner fix…On the contrary, preparing this dish from scratch requires  a bit of time and planning. The result however, makes up for it.

Fast in this case refers to the period of lent (fast) when, traditionally,  egg, dairy, fish and meat are excluded from the diet to the benefit of vegetables, legumes and seafood: an almost vegan approach to eating…chickpeacasserole3

chickpeacasserole2

Preparing the peas is what takes the most time; using canned chickpeas is of course, a possible shortcut.

Ingredients for 4 generous portions of ragout:

600 gr cooked chickpeas (300 gr uncooked)
200 gr spring onions (a batch)
500 gr chard
200 gr spinach (fresh or frozen)
50 gr flat leaf parsley
2 tbsp dill (fresh, frozen or dry)
2 garlic cloves
0.5 tsp cumin
0.5 tsp turmeric
0.5 tsp chili
2 tsp rock salt
some water
olive oil

Preparing the chickpeas:

  • Most legumes need to be soaked for at least four hours before cooking.  Soaking overnight is practical – you sleep, they soak.
  • For this recipe you will need around 300 gr of uncooked chickpeas. They will double in size and weight.  Pour plenty of water over them and change the water a couple of times.  I  soaked my peas for two days.
  • 1-2 hours before you launch the cooking, add  a teaspoon of baking soda or baking powder to the water.
  • When it’s time to start cooking, rinse the peas and place them on a clean kitchen towel. Fold the edges towards the centre to make a pouch. Think of someone you dislike and kneed the chickpeas briskly against the kitchen counter.  This will help remove the husks and release some steam.
  • Place the peas in a bowl and pour water over them. Remove the husks that float to  the surface. Rinse.
  • Place the chickpeas in a big pot, cover with water and bring to the boil, skimming the foam. When the peas stop releasing foam, add a pinch of salt to the water, cover and let cook  until tender.

Tip: make a bigger batch of chickpeas while you are at it. Any excess you can freeze and use later. You can also put some peas aside to make houmous.

Preparing the greens:

  • Immerse the chard in water, i.e in the sink. Change the water. Rinse the chard leaf by leaf,  cut off the stems and put aside. Remove crushed and sulky leaves and rough-looking stems.  Cut the leaves in three and chop the stems.  If you are using fresh spinach, clean it the same way, but don’t bother separating the stems.
  • Chop the onions finely;  mince the garlic; wash and chop the parsley and dill – frozen or dry dill works well too!

Cooking:

  • Heat up 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in a large pot on medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the onion, garlic and chard stems. Stir and add the spices and herbs:  turmeric, chili, cumin and dill. Cook  for 3-5 minutes until soft.
  • Depending on the size of your pot, you can either add the washed and cut chard – and spinach- directly to the ‘master pot’, or steam the greens separately in another vessel until they have decreased in volume.
  • Add only a hint of water – the greens will release a lot of liquid while cooking.
  • When the chard and spinach have  softened and reduced in volume, it’s time to add the chickpeas, together with some of the chickpea broth, and the salt. If you are using canned peas, strain them and add them to the chard & spinach mix.
  • Let the peas and chard simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add the parsley and leave the pot on the hot stove. You can put a kitchen cloth between the lid and the pot, to keep the steam in.

Before serving, add some olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice.

Serving tip:

Combine the ragout  with a wholegrain cereal, a nice and rustic match. Whole oats is a tasty alternative to rice. Soak the oats overnight in two parts water, then transfer with the water to a pot, add a pinch of salt and boil until soft; before serving, toss the oats in the pan with some oil and add some freshly ground black pepper.

 

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