On Saturday morning, I headed out in the chilly rain to gather some appetizers to take to our friends’ house that evening. In old-world-style, I made a couple of stops - collecting my favorites from Sevan Bakery(Watertown) and Eastern Lamejun (Belmont). At Sevan, I got some hummus (theirs is the only purchased hummus L. will deign to eat), some whipped feta spread (really, you’ve GOT to try this – whipped feta and red peppers – so yummy I want to put my face in it), and some muhammara (Aleppo pepper, walnuts, pomegranate molasses - rich and a deep rich flavor unlike any other – great as a dip or slather it on baked chicken or fish). At Eastern Lamejun, I bought ½ dozen meat lamejunwith garlic and a bunch of house-made pita chips.
Have you ever had lamejun? They’re delicious – a piece of very thin round dough is covered in minced meat (lamb, beef, and E.L. makes them with chicken, too) and spices. You heat ‘em and eat ‘em. They even freeze well. By the way, keep this idea in your back pocket, because they’re a great summer convenience food – think 2 or so per person and whip up a nice fresh salad – stuff salad inside the lamejun, roll and eat. Dinner, done!
Anyway – this is all a long lead-in to today’s recipe. Because I had a minute to browse at Sevan, I sought dried bean inspiration. I came away with a big bag of dried chickpeas, just like mama used to make. As you know, I’m trying to eat fewer canned foods, and one of my canned-goods staples is chickpeas. I came home and cooked up ½ the bag to use later in a recipe. Now be forewarned – should you get bold and try to cook these at home, they take a super long time to cook – something on the order of 2 hours! Not for the faint of heart . . . but you’ll be richly rewarded for your efforts. Freshly cooked chickpeas are firmer and more flavorful than their canned cousins. And much, much cheaper.
This easy Armenian recipe is not only tasty, but it’s a nutrient blast – chard, chickpeas, lycopene from the tomato paste and a little olive oil to help you absorb all the nutrients . . . do yourself a favor and serve it over brown rice, at least, to keep up the momentum!
Chard ‘n’ Chickpeas (adapted from this recipe at The Armenian Kitchen)2 T. extra-virgin olive oil 1 head chard, thick stems removed and coarsely chopped 1 medium onion, chopped 1 t. crushed garlic 3 T. tomato paste 3 c. chickpeas (or two cans, drained and rinsed) ½ c. low-sodium chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you're vegetarian) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Heat the oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until they’re translucent. Add the chard and sauté until it is wilted. Add the chick peas, tomato paste, broth and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cover and simmer on low heat until the chard is tender, about 20-30 minutes. If you have any Aleppo pepper on hand, it'd be awesome in this dish. I sadly forgot to pick some up that day!
Serve over brown rice pilaf.