MARINATED CHICKPEAS WITH SLOW-ROASTED RED PEPPERS

I follow a group of food bloggers I completely trust. Kelly from Inspired Edibles is part of this group. When she raves about a recipe, I usually jump on making it. This is the most recent example, and I know if you make it you will rave about it also. Two things: do not be tempted to use canned chickpeas. And go for the slow-roasting of bell peppers. These two small details make the dish shine.

MARINATED CHICKPEAS WITH SLOW-ROASTED RED PEPPERS
(adapted from Inspired Edibles)

for the veggie mixture:
1 + 1/4 cup dried chickpeas (from 1 1/4 cup dry)
2 large red bell peppers, cut into strips
110 g Feta cheese
60 g pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
parsley to serve

for the marinade:
⅓ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
¾ tsp salt or to taste
black pepper to taste
½ Tbsp honey

Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water. Next day, drain and rinse, then cook in slightly salted water until tender, but still al dente – about 40 minutes. the chickpeas in a large pot with lots of water until desired consistency is achieved (for this recipe, I prefer the chickpeas to have some texture – not too mushy – so I aim for al dente, it takes over 1 hour). This step can be made in advance.

Heat oven to 300F and prepare the marinade by whisking together all the ingredients. Make sure when you add the honey that it gets fully integrated with the other components.

Place the cooked chickpeas (ideally still warm) in serving platter with tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese. intermingle with tomatoes, onion, olives and half of the feta. Pour the marinade over top, tossing gently to combine.

While the chickpea mixture marinades at room temperature, spread the sliced peppers out on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1.5-2 Tbsp olive oil and add a couple shakes of salt, and roast for about one hour. Add them to the chickpea mixture, and serve, sprinkled with parsley leaves.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This recipe is a winner, all the way. Leftovers were fantastic next day and even better on the second day. I warmed everything in the microwave, just barely, and there was no compromise in the texture, the taste of the marinade just got more intense. Perfect.

Make sure to stop by Kelly’s blog and read her post, as she offers a different way to enjoy it, with cucumbers in tzatziki sauce. The key is to cook the chickpeas from scratch. Totally different from canned, which works fine for other preparations such as hummus. The slow-roasting of the bell peppers is another great twist, they develop a milder flavor and very soft texture.

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OVEN-BROILED SALMON OVER SAUCY SPINACH

A lightning-fast dinner to prepare, your best friend on a busy weeknight! At first, I wanted to call it “Healthy Salmon Dinner” or something along those lines, but I am a bit tired of the constant labeling of recipes as “healthy” or “good for you.”  Anything can be good for you if approached the right way.   A slice of apple pie?  No problem.  A slice of apple pie with two scoops of vanilla ice cream drenched in caramel sauce, after a dinner of fried chicken with biscuits and gravy?  Well, not your best option, but if you do it only once in a blue moon, even that is not a crime!  Eat sensibly and enjoy your food…  😉

For this dish, I combined two different recipes, one from Fine Cooking, another  from Food and Wine. As you may have noticed, I cook often from both publications, love them!  Joining salmon, spinach, kalamatas, and raisins might seem like a stretch, but we were both swooning over our plates. Since a little starch never hurt anyone, I made some orzo perfumed with lemon zest as a side dish. Awesome dinner!

FIVE-SPICE GLAZED SALMON WITH WILTED SPINACH
(adapted from Fine Cooking & Food and Wine magazines)

4 salmon filets, skin on
1/4 cup honey
4 tsp soy sauce
1 + 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
3 bunches of spinach (16 to 18 oz)
1 shallot, diced
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, halved or diced
1/4 cup golden raisins
squeeze of lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Combine the honey, soy, and five-spice powder in a small bowl, mixing it all well. Put the pieces of salmon, skin side down, on a plate or baking dish just large enough to hold them side by side.  Pour the honey mixture over the salmon, flip them over, so that the skin is now up.   Let them sit in this honey glaze for 15 minutes as you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Meanwhile, turn your oven broiler on.

Place a colander over a bowl or plate near your stove top. Pour a little water on a large non-stick skillet set on medium-high heat.  When the water is very hot, add half of the spinach leaves, and move them around quickly using tongs until they start to wilt.  Transfer them to the colander, and wilt the rest of the spinach leaves the same way. Add them to the colander, and wipe the skillet dry.

Start broiling the salmon.  Place the pieces skin side down on a baking dish lined with foil and slightly coated with a spray of olive oil to prevent sticking.  Brush the top of the salmon with a little of the honey glaze, saving the rest in a small bowl.  Total broiling time will be 5 to 6 minutes, depending on how thick your filets are, and how you like them cooked.

Heat 2 Tbs olive oil in the skillet, when the oil is very hot add the shallots and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the kalamata olives, the raisins, stir them all together for a minute or so. Add the spinach, toss around to warm up, squeeze a little lemon juice all over, and season with salt and pepper.  Remove the spinach mixture to a serving platter, add another squeeze of lemon juice to the honey glaze in the small bowl, add to the skillet over medium heat, until it bubbles and heats through.   Place the broiled salmon over the bed of spinach, drizzle with the honey marinade, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments:  You know those bags of baby spinach that sell in the grocery store for 4 bucks (or more), and you must cook at least two bags to feed you and your partner?  You don’t need those.  😉  Recently, a remark by  Rachael Ray in one of her shows perked my interest.  She said that those humble looking spinach bundles, tied together with a  nasty metal string, will work nicely in many preparations.

I got three of those – each for $1.30 – and was very pleased by how they wilted but kept some structure and a more intense taste than their organic baby cousins.   Simply use a large knife and cut them above the string very close to the leaves, to get rid of all the stem part (compost those, if you can).  Drop the leaves in a large bowl (or sink) full of water, swirl them around a few times, and dry in a salad spinner.  They are ready to use.

The salmon – my first time oven-broiling it, by the way – cooked to perfection, the honey in the marinade giving it that irresistible copper tone, and the spinach combined with the olives and raisins, raised the bar of this meal quite a bit.  If you are watching your carbs intake, you can always omit the orzo.

ONE YEAR AGO: Butterscotch Brownies

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