Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Middle Eastern Chickpeas with Spinach

It's been six days since my last post. I've been a bit lazy and I hadn't been to the grocery store which makes it hard to cook. Doesn't this remind you of another recipe I made a few weeks back? It has a number of the same ingredients including chickpeas and spinach but tastes better than the aforementioned dish and isn't Indian.

I am going through an elimination diet currently and for the next two weeks I am not eating tomatoes. I can't tell you how many dishes call for tomatoes -- so many! This is one reason why this dish spoke to me. With the weather getting warmer and warmer, it's my goal to spend as little time as possible in the kitchen and eat 'cooler' foods. The dish calls for a yogurt and mint sauce which was so delightful and enhanced the flavor of the chickpeas and spinach.

Makes 4 servings
Time: 35 minutes

Sauce Ingredients
-2/3 c plain nonfat yogurt
-1 small garlic glove, minced or pressed
-1 tsp chopped fresh mint
-dash of salt

-1 c onion, chopped
-2 tsp olive oil
-1 red bell pepper, seeded and cubed
-2 tsp ground coriander
-1 tsp ground cumin
-pinch of saffron
-16 oz can chickpeas (unsalted), with liquid reserve
-10 oz spinach, rinsed, stemmed, and coarsely chopped
-2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
-salt and ground black pepper to taste

My modifications
I used 3/4 c frozen multi-colored peppers because it was enough to chop the fresh spinach. I skipped the saffron. I used 15 oz of chickpeas and 9 oz of spinach -- it's what I could find.

Combine the yogurt, garlic, mint, and salt in a bowl and send aside to get the flavors working.

In a skillet, saute the onions in the oil on medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the fresh/frozen bell peppers, coriander, cumin, and saffron and continue to saute for another 2 to 3 minutes. Add the chickpeas and 1/4 c of their liquid and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the peppers are tender, adding more of the reserved chickpea liquid if needed. Add the spinach, cover, and cook, stirring often, for 2 or 3 minutes until the spinach is bright and wilted. Stir in lemon juice and add salt and pepper.

This can be served with a variety of items including pita, couscous, orzo or rice. I served this with brown rice topped with the yogurt sauce.

The dish is low maintenance except for the chopping of fresh spinach. You could probably avoid this step altogether using frozen chopped spinach. Doing this will halve the time of the recipe though I have to say that the fresh spinach was amazing.


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