Difficulty Level: Easy
The menus at our house are pretty green. As regular readers know, I shop locally and only buy fruits and vegetables in season. I don't use any processed foods, so not only are we getting the health benefits I'm not generating all that packaging waste. I realized that the one area where I was really falling down was in canned goods, namely legumes. I'm a big advocate for including lots of legumes in your diet so my recycling bin generally has a number of cans in it and not much else.
Opening a can of chickpeas just seemed so much more convenient than soaking them over night and then cooking them for a few hours. Well, yes it is, but I work at home so what was my problem? One evening I measured one cup of dried chickpeas into a bowl and covered them with water. Next morning when I was dressed and ready to face the day I drained them, put them in a big pot with four cups of water, brought them to a boil, then gently simmered them until they were tender, about ninety minutes. Normally a nineteen ounce can would feed my husband and me for dinner, usually with some leftovers. That single cup of chickpeas made two dinners for the two of us and formed the base for a pasta for five people. Not only did I feed nine people, but I had absolutely no waste at all. The bag it came in holds three cups of dried chickpeas, so that's the equivalent of about six cans that I'm keeping out of the recycling system.
There are other benefits that I hadn't realized. These chickpeas tasted better. Also, when you use canned chickpeas you drain and rinse them, while the cooking liquid of dried chickpeas is quite tasty and definitely worth using. You can use it for flavouring in stews or soups. You can store the cooked chickpeas in their liquid for three or four days in the refrigerator and toss them into salads, sauces, really anything you are making.
I'm not sure I've ever made anything that derived so many benefits from so little effort. I don't own a crock pot, but I think if you soaked the chickpeas over night and then put them on to cook before you went to work they would be ready when you got home for dinner.
This is a nice rustic dinner which fulfills all of my criteria. It's delicious, it's fast and very easy and it's economical. I used swiss chard, but feel free to use any leafy green vegetable. Spinach will take a bit less time to cook and kale will take a bit longer. I served grilled tomatoes as a side dish, but something earthy like beets would be good too.
|1 tbsp||olive oil|
|1 small||onion, chopped|
|1||clove garlic, minced|
|1 cup||cooked chickpeas, with some cooking liquid|
|1/2 bunch||swiss chard or any other leafy vegetable such as spinach or kale|
|2‑4||slices rustic bread (depending on loaf size)|
|fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano or basil|
|salt and pepper to taste, parmesan cheese (optional)|
- In a skillet heat olive oil and cook onion until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until golden.
- Add chickpeas with a ladle or so of cooking liquid and heat through. Add swiss chard and cook until wilted. If it is too dry, add a bit more liquid. Sprinkle with herbs and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Meanwhile toast bread and lay on a plate. Spoon chickpea mixture over the toast. Grate some Parmesan cheese over top if using.