Sunday, July 14, 2013

Chickpea Sauté with Greek Yogurt: Grand ambitions

The first item on my birthday wish list last year was Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty. When I first opened the now iconic vegetarian cookbook (at an Anthropologie, if you must know), I was arrested by the colorful photos and eclectic mix of recipes that all seemed to be written with my palate in mind. I stood in the store gawking over the quinoa and fava bean salad and crusted pumpkin wedges for a good twenty minutes, likely drawing the ire of the sales associates wondering whether my fingers were sullying the pristine pages.

I had grand ambitions for the cookbook when I finally received it last September. I was going to make dill-scented, crepe-like omelets stuffed with saffron yogurt, broil eggplant until it burned and collapsed into itself, and do things to fennel and goat cheese the likes of which had never before been seen.

At least by my kitchen that is.

Yet for some reason or another, the cookbook remained largely untouched on my bookshelf for the better part of this year. It wasn't that I was uninspired by the recipes, nor disinterested in the 11 different ways I could prepare eggplant, and I really did want to make the black pepper tofu.

I just wasn't sure I wanted to buy three different kinds of soy sauce to do it.

Because what is a single girl living alone supposed to do with three different kinds of soy sauce? Or an entire bottle of hazelnut oil? Or a jar of "nigella seeds" for that matter? Surely not even Queen Nigella Lawson has need for those seeds.

So when I finally re-cracked open the book two weekends ago, determined to make something, anything, from the one gift I absolutely had to have for my birthday nine months ago, I selected one of the simplest recipes I could find, a humble chickpea sauté with Greek yogurt. Mostly because I was already in possession of all the core ingredients required except for the caraway seeds, which I quickly justified as not too out of the ordinary to be a completely impractical purchase.

I didn't expect much from these chickpeas, likely because, at face value, chickpeas aren't particularly revolutionary, and the other principles of the dish, carrots and kale, certainly don't inspire a standing ovation either. Yet the way the ingredients are studiously seasoned and brought together, melded by the cool bite of tangy yogurt and sharp acidity of lemon, creates something far more exciting than a simple chickpea sauté recipe has any business being. I know this because I've eaten it no less than seven times in the past 15 days.

I've also made a serious dent in the caraway seeds that now seem completely necessary for a single girl to have in constant supply. Perhaps next to an entire bottle of hazelnut oil, three types of soy sauce, and a jar of nigella seeds.

Chickpea Sauté with Greek Yogurt
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty
Serves 4

Notes: I took quite a few liberties with this recipe, so bear with me. Liberty 1: I used kale instead of the requested Swiss chard, and steamed it in a steamer as opposed to blanching it in a pot of boiling water. Liberty 2: I reduced the amount of olive oil, because, what else is new? Liberty 3: I used more garlic, because, I'm afraid of vampires. (Or maybe just Kristen Stewart.) Liberty 4: I doubled the amount of fresh herbs. Liberty 5: I added a little extra lemon juice to the yogurt. Liberty 6: I sprinkled some Dukkah I picked up at Trader Joe's over the top. Liberty 7: I served this over quinoa, toasted, and cooked in vegetable broth.

One last note before I launch into the main affair - I've made this with lime juice instead of lemon juice without a noticeable taste differential, and have also come to enjoy it with a fried egg strewn over the top when I'm out of Greek yogurt. Now, go out into the world and procure some caraway seeds. And when you return, make this recipe immediately.

3/4 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 bunch dino kale, rinsed well
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/8 inch dice
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained, rinsed well
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Salt and black pepper
6 ounces Greek yogurt
Dukkah seasoning, for serving

Heat large nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the rinsed quinoa and cook, shaking the pan frequently, until kernels are lightly browned, but not burned, and start to pop up from the pan.

Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a medium-sized pot, add the quinoa and simmer 15-20 minutes or until all the water has been absorbed and the white outer shell has separated from the individual kernels. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Meanwhile, remove kale leaves from stems. Lightly steam stems in a vegetable steamer for 6 minutes before adding the the leaves. Continue steaming for another 4 minutes, then rinse both with a blast of cold running water. Squeeze both dry and then chop roughly. (If blanching in a pot of water, reduce cooking time to 3 minutes and 2 minutes respectively.)

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in the same large, heavy saucepan you used to toast the quinoa. Add the carrots, caraway seeds, a good pinch of salt, and sauté 5 minutes over medium heat. Add the chickpeas, garlic, and kale, another good pinch of salt, and continue sautéing for another 6 minutes or so. Turn off the heat, and stir in the lemon juice (reserving 1 teaspoon for the yogurt), fresh herbs and season with pepper to taste.

While the sauté cools slightly, mix together the yogurt, remaining olive oil and lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, divide the quinoa between four bowls and top with the chickpea mixture. Dollop the yogurt over the top and sprinkle with Dukkah seasoning.


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Gastronomer said...

Your liberties are funny, D!

I am excited for your birthday THIS September :)

NoYutsNoButs said...

This is a wonderful piece of writing. I could make this maybe and you make me want to. I am excited for your birthday too!!! I say BIG BIG BIG party. I'll buy a new dress.

Banana Wonder said...

oh TALF I'd be eating this every other day too. I'm curious about that black pepper tofu and I know you have pepper hanging around. Also, hazelnut oil is a must!!