Tag Archives: saffron

When Simple Meets Delicious

There are times after a busy day on the farm that I want to make something healthy yet packed with flavor. If I can get it to the table in 30 minutes, all the better. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s made with my favorite legume, the chickpea or garbanzo. Chickpeas go way beyond hummus, and are excellent in stews, soups, sides and salads, along with grains and pasta. They boast 11 grams of protein in 1 cup, and deliver the most nutrients of all other beans. Loaded with zinc and fiber, they pair well with cuisines from many cultures.

This is a simple stew from Catalonia, Spain loaded with garlic, vegetable broth, spinach, saffron and get this, raisins. In the end, this savory-sweet stew hits on all cylinders. We love it, and I think you will too!

CATALAN SPINACH AND CHICKPEA STEW

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, ground in a mortar and pestle or food processor
  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (homemade if possible)
  • Large pinch of saffron threads
  • 3 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. In a stock pot over medium-high heat, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, the sliced shallots and the garlic. Saute, stirring constantly, until shallots are translucent about 2 minutes. Add tomato sauce and simmer for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in the mortar and pestle or food processor, add the saffron threads, parsley, and sea salt. Process until fine. Set aside.
  3. Add the fresh spinach, and stir until wilted, then add the chickpeas, raisins, and sea salt and pepper to taste. Add 2 cups of vegetable stock and the almond mixture. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls.

Serves 4

“Beans, beans, the magical legume. The more you eat, the more you consume.” –A. Yankovic

Spread The Wealth

One of the outstanding things about summer is the abundance of fresh produce.  When looking for inspiration, I’m frequently inspired by America’s rich immigrant cultures.  I keep returning to the Mediterranean.  Their foods are creative, savory and delicious.

I am crazy about tomatoes, eggplant and garlic.  Alone or in combination they continue to be flavors with endless possibility.  I love a good baba ganoush or baba ghnouj, an eggplant dip typically made with roasted eggplant, tahini, olive oil and lemon juice. When I came across recipes from the Lebanese heritage using slightly different ingredients to make a thicker spread called Borani-E Badenjan I couldn’t wait to try it.  It had all the ingredients I love, including caramelized onion, garlic and yogurt.  I frequently freeze large batches of caramelized onions, since they are one of our main crops.  I have them at the ready to be used in anything from dips, to pizza.  I’ve written the recipe to include cooking the onion specifically as you make the spread.  I like to eat it with pita, cucumbers and/or carrots.

EGGPLANT AND YOGURT SPREAD (BORANI-E BADENJAN)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large eggplants (a little over a pound)
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, halved lengthwise and cut into thin slices
  • 1 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/3 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • Fresh pita for serving

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DIRECTIONS:

  1.  Preheat the broiler to high (alternately, you can do this on a gas grill).  Prick the eggplants in several places with the tip of a knife and place under the hot broiler or on a gas grill.  Broil or grill for 30-40 minutes, turning them halfway through, until the skin is charred and the flesh is very soft.  Halve the frilled eggplant lengthwise.  Scoop out the flesh and place in a colander for about 30 minutes to drain off the excess liquid.
  2. Heat the olive oil in skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until soft and lightly golden, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for another minute or so.  In a food processor, add the eggplant, onions, and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Process until smooth.
  3. Stir the yogurt, and sumac into the cooled mixture.  Transfer to a serving dish.  Drizzle with  olive oil and sprinkle with a few saffron threads or 1/4 teaspoon sumac.  Top with chopped walnuts.  Serve with pita.

Yields: 1-2 cups

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 “The only thing I like better than talking about food is eating” – John Walters