Roots, Beans & Greens, Oh My!

Version 2
Photo © 2016 Fadia Jawdat

My husband calls me the Queen of Soups and Salads. My soups are not original: I just tweak family recipes, read cook-books and scroll through the on-line suggestions and, practice, practice, practice. I have made the same darn soups for over 30 years—I can make them in my sleep.

I was fortunate enough to discover something new this winter when I came across a New York Times on-line recipe for “Moroccan Chickpea and Chard ”.
Beans and greens combos are healthy and comforting. I love lentil soup with chard or Cannellini beans and kale. Somehow this recipe grabbed my attention, perhaps because of its rich spice combination and perhaps because I was getting a little tired of the usual list of family “traditionals”. It is my go-to soup this season. Here’s my take on the recipe.

Let me be clear: I admire cooks making beans from scratch, but I neither have the patience nor the time. I choose cans. They may be heavy to lug back from the grocery store and are a nuisance for the environment (I know), but speed in the kitchen is my modus operandi.

I omitted the jalapeño and the cayenne—black pepper is enough heat for me and the complexity of flavors in the remaining spice mixture make up for the omission. I reduced the oil and salt by half (they’re bad for you). My family can add salt, hot sauces and jalapeños to their heart’s content and so can you. No dried apricots necessary, and preserved lemons… only if you happen to have them around. They are a staple in my pantry, but I did not need to waste them on a homey soup. It is delicious enough without them. I have made the soup 4 times in 7 weeks and I have never used fennel (my family doesn’t like fennel). On occasion I used more turnips. I tried heirloom yellow and purple carrots too. Big mistake: yellow is fine, but purple will color your soup with an unappetizing grayish color.

To avoid confusion, I have scratched out my omissions and “bolded” my additions. There you go, give it a try.

Moroccan Chickpeas with Chard (New York Times)

Ingredients:
(4 ) 2 tablespoons olive oil
2 Spanish onions, chopped
1 large jalapeño pepper, seeded if desired, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 (+ more to taste) teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
(2½)  1 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon sweet paprika (I use smoked Spanish paprika, for added depth)
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 fennel bulb, diced (save fronds for garnish)
1 very large bunch chard, stems sliced 1/2-inch thick, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
2(to 4) carrots, peeled and diced
1(to 2) large turnip, peeled and diced
1 pound dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water to cover or quick-soaked
1 Can of chickpeas drained
1 (32 oz.) Carton of veggie broth: Start with 2 cups and add as you go, you do not want the soup to be too liquid (the recipe calls for the the water that the beans have cooked in, but since I use canned beans, the broth is needed)
⅓ cup diced dried apricots
(2 tablespoons chopped preserved lemon, more to taste) Optional
½ cup chopped cilantro, more for garnish Optional

The method is easy, but I recommend that you first line up and measure all the spices, grate the ginger, peel and mince the garlic, peel and chop the veggies and greens (separate the chard stems from the leaves, chop them separately, add the stems only, to the root vegetables—chopped chard leaves are to be added later in the game). Once everything is ready then you can heat the oil, sauté onions until transparent, add spices, veggies and tomato paste, sauté for a minute or two to coat with the spices. Do not let things burn or stick to the pan, start adding the broth a little at a time to loosen up things, and continue stirring. Add enough broth to cover by an inch and simmer until veggies are semi tender, then add the chopped chard and the beans and cook until the greens are tender and to your liking. Add more broth as you go if you like. Serve with hearty crusty bread, some olives and pickles perhaps. Serves 6.

For original recipe and method visit:

http://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1017228-moroccan-chickpeas-with-chard

Author: slicesofquinceblog

Hello, Thank you for visiting my blog. My name is Fadia. Fadia, like “Nadia” but with an F as in “Food”. Food is a passion of mine, bordering on an obsession. It has kept me sane (and well-nourished) during a long and crazy career in the food business. I live in Washington, D.C. with my husband, where our two daughters were born and raised and where, they learned to spend hours in the kitchen watching, experimenting, learning, cooking and baking. Food has been the thread and fabric of my relationships with people who, like me, have researched its nourishing and healing powers and have shared their knowledge in underserved or “over-served” communities, or who simply are thrilled with the joys of cooking. I grew up in Beirut, Lebanon, in a household and a family of cooks, or should I say, in a country of fiercely competitive cooks (I will probably write about Middle-eastern cooking as adapted to the U.S. kitchen). I moved to New York in my twenties and there I began my life-long exploration of world cuisines while still perfecting the art of cooking elaborate and healthy dishes in a jiffy and on a budget. We never succumbed to frozen dinners— O.K. maybe, a frozen pizza on the occasional Friday night. This is America after all! I cook just about everyday. I have had many teachers and many mentors, and I have taught and mentored many. I am still discovering and learning. It’s a never-ending joyful process. I also cook for distraction and have cooked professionally as instructor and demonstrator. I am setting up a burgeoning business as a freelance recipe tester and developer and a food writer and photographer. (Bring on the requests! I am available for hire). In this blog I plan to share photos, recipes and stories. Most of all I would like to honor all my kitchen heroes who have and continue to inspire me. I would like it to develop into a forum of exchange between friends, a resource for tips, information and ideas. Finally, I must mention that I do not do this without a twang of shame. I‘ll mention it and move on, hoping that perhaps later, I could dedicate more time and writing to it. The dark side of food, is the lack of it, bringing on malnutrition, disease and hunger to billions around the globe and right here in our own backyards. Our culture has also contributed to devastating food disorders that are very hard to ignore. As much as food brings us joy, the lack of it brings devastation. I never forget that. I would like to think that while we relish our beautiful dishes and our gorgeous photos of elegantly plated food, we can take a moment to read a HUNGER blog or two and help the people and organizations that dedicate their lives to this universal cause. Each of us food fanatics can. Please start now, start thoughtfully . I know I shall. With gratitude. F.

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