Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chickpea and Spinach Curry

Thanks to a bonus box as part of our winter subscription to the CSA and the magical miracle of the early spring greenhouse, I recently had my first taste of locally-grown spinach. Since the weather had turned decidedly not green and growing, a big salad just sounded chilly. I dug through my (somewhat) organized files and pulled out a recipe for a dish I had repeatedly put aside in warmer weather: a chickpea and spinach curry with tomatoes.

This is a super-speedy week-night supper concoction that you can doctor to your taste or style. I’ve made it here as a curry, but since chickpeas, spinach and tomatoes are at home in a variety of cuisines, you could change the spices to Mediterranean herbs or Moroccan seasonings and have something new. I served it with brown basmati rice, but you could serve it as a stew with a chunk of bread (perhaps even naan if you keep it curry-style) or maybe even toss it with pasta or pour it over polenta.

While I’ve gone on record as someone who prefers to make my own spice blends, I’ve found myself with an embarrassment of store-bought curry powder in my cupboard, so I used it here. I also spiced my dish up quite a bit by including two dried red chile peppers. You could tone it down if you like, and I know there are a few of you who would like to kick it up even more. Suit yourself. This is as very versatile dish.

I’m amazed at how much flavor was packed into this simple dish: creamy chickpeas, tangy tomatoes (I happened to have fire-roasted tomatoes the day I made this) and green and earthy spinach. So, so simple. So, so delicious. This dish offers a really big bang for your buck. And since most of us have pretty busy schedules and time is really money too, Chickpea and Spinach Curry is a double bang. I’d say the average busy family cook could get this on the table without much hassle at all, say, in less than 20 minutes. In fact, if you’re serving it with rice, you’d better get the rice well on its way before you begin the curry because the rice will take significantly longer to cook.

Something so easy was a great solution to the week-night rush I found myself in. Something so quick was a great way to show off such good spinach without boiling the heck out of it. Something so warm and slightly soupy was a great comfort for those not-yet-springtime blues. Oh, and I used up some of that curry powder, too. I call that a win-win-win-win situation.

Chickpea and Spinach Curry
Adapted from Cooking Light magazine

1 tablespoon canola oil, ghee or other neutral oil
1 cup chopped onion (about 1 medium onion)
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
½ teaspoon coarse salt, divided
2 dried chile peppers (or to taste)
1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas (about 1 ½ cups) drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
1 ½ teaspoons curry powder
6 ounces fresh spinach (about 4-5 cups), well washed and chopped
½ cup water
¼ cup chopped cilantro
juice of ½ lime

1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. The onions should just be beginning to brown. Break the chile peppers in half and stir them in.

2. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes and curry powder. Simmer on medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the spinach, water and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt. Cook until the spinach wilts, about 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cilantro and lime juice. Serve with rice or flatbread if desired.

Makes about 4 servings.

Other recipes like this one: Italian Chickpeas, Winter Squash and Onion Curry with Yogurt Sauce

One year ago: Sloppy Beans and Tomatoes

Two years ago: Double Banana Walnut Pancakes

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