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Monday, June 13, 2011

Chickpea couscous salad and Curried Chickpeas

I adore chickpeas, plain and simple.  I bought a 1 lb. bag of dry chickpeas at the store, and I'll be making 2 dinners from it.  One is chickpeas couscous salad and the other is curried chickpeas.  Both are prep/make-ahead friendly and freezer-kit-able.  Just awesome.

Couscous salad

First of all, you gotta cook the chickpeas.  You could buy canned chickpeas, but cooking your own is 1) cheaper, 2) not hard and 3) allows you to cook more flavorfully than what you'll get with canned. 

  1. Soak the chickpeas overnight or do a quick soak by boiling them in a large pot with lots of water for 2 minutes, then cover them, take them off the heat and let them stand for 1 hour.  Drain and rinse.  Rinsing at this stage significantly reduces their, ahem, musical qualities. 
  2. Cover again with water and bring to a boil.  Add 2 black tea bags (if you want), and reduce heat to simmer. 
  3. Cover with the lid left slightly ajar and simmer GENTLY for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, depending on how much cronch you like your beans to have.  Don't cook them at too high a temperature or for too long, or else the skins will separate from the beans (and not in a good way...I screw up so you don't have to). 
  4. Drain, measure out 1 or 2 cup portions (depending on how you plan to use them) and put in containers to fridge or freeze.
A reasonable schedule for doing all this is starting a long soak in the morning, draining and rinsing after dinner, and cooking while you're watching a movie.  

Cholay (curried chickpeas)
Makes 6 servings

Seasoning salt isn't a traditional "curry" spice, but I think it works well in this context.

1 tsp cuminseed
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1 tsp seasoning salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 fresh tomato, diced

For prep-ahead cooking, measure out the cuminseed and put in a small dish or bag.  Chop onion and put it in a storage container.  Combine chickpeas, seasoning salt, cayenne and tomato in another storage container.  Fridge or freeze.

To cook, over medium heat, toast the cuminseed, about 5 minutes.  Don't let it burn!  Add the oil when the cuminseed is lightly browned and fragrant, and add the onion.  Saute 5-10 minutes, until softened.  Add the chickpeas, cayenne and tomato.  Cook until heated through.  You can also fridge or freeze the finished dish to reheat later.

Couscous Chickpea Salad
Makes 6 servings

To make this a freezer/pantry kit, you need to use pre-frozen carrots, preferably diced. Add them to the stock before bringing it to a boil. If you make this fresh, you can use fresh, grated carrots and add them to the salad raw. You can make this a day ahead to serve, but it tastes better fresh. The pinenuts don't have to be toasted, but they are tasty that way. Lastly, you can make this totally vegetarian by using vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

For couscous:
1 tbsp olive oil
3 green onions, chopped
2 cups carrots, fresh shredded or frozen diced
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
2 cups chicken stock
1 10 oz. package plain or whole wheat couscous

For salad:
1 cup dates, chopped
1/4 cup pinenuts, toasted
2 cups chickpeas (1 15 oz. can or 2 cups homemade)
chopped fresh herbs (optional)

For dressing:
6 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
pinch salt and pepper

To package for a freezer kit, combine vegetables and spices in a storage container.  Label can of stock (if using canned) and couscous box for pantry storage.  Label dates and chickpea cans/jars and pinenut package, if necessary, or freeze chickpeas, dates and pinenuts in a storage container.  Whisk together oil, vinegar and salt and pepper and freeze in a ziptop bag. 

To cook, heat 1 tbsp oil over medium heat.  Add vegetables (green onion only if using fresh carrots) and spices and saute 5 minutes, until softened.  Add stock and bring to a boil.  Stir in couscous, take off the heat and cover.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

Combine dates, pinenuts, chickpeas and fresh shredded carrots, if using, in a large bowl.  Add cooked couscous and toss to combine.  Whisk up dressing ingredients, and pour over salad, stirring to coat thoroughly.  Top with chopped fresh herbs if desired.  Serve at room temperature or cold.  Pin It

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