Legumes and greens are one of my favorite pairings for a quick, light meal. White beans and escarole, kale and lentils, chard and mung beans. Add a little garlic, crushed red chile, good olive oil, and you have yourself a delicious meal. It practically begs to be piled onto a thick slice of toasted sourdough to make an open-faced sandwich (add a little grated parmigiano — heavenly). Spoon into a bowl, top with an egg and call it breakfast or brunch. Layer some in your next grilled cheese sandwich with fontina and parmigiano. Or add to a hippie bowl with farro or barley for a heartier main course. You get the picture. It’s a versatile combination.
This latest beans-and-greens combo began with a big bunch of broccoli rabe (aka rapini) that I had picked up at the market. Wanting to pair it with some protein I decided to add chickpeas to the mix song with an Ottolenghi-inspired tahini yogurt sauce (spiced up a bit with cumin and pomegranate molasses) and toasted pine nuts. My idea of a perfect lunch.
Broccoli rabe isn’t the lowest maintenance of the leafy greens, but when prepared correctly its silky texture and earthy, verdant flavor make it well worth the effort. First give the greens the usual soak in plenty of cold water to remove any grit. Then, and this is something I only started doing recently, trim the stems. It takes about ten minutes to work through a large bunch, but it makes the experience of eating the greens less stringy and far more enjoyable. Cut off the tough bottom half-inch of the stalks with a chef’s knife, and then with a paring knife peel away the tough outer skin of each stalk, pulling upwards from the bottom cut end and working around the stalk in a circle. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, trimming goes quickly and becomes rather enjoyable, actually — meditative, as a friend put it recently. Once trimmed, I blanch the rapini in plenty of salted water and drain it.
I was pressed for time the morning I made this and used a can of Eden organics chickpeas — I like that they cook their chickpeas with kombu (which aids digestion) and that their cans are BPA-free. By all means use scratch-cooked chickpeas if you have the time or have some hanging around the fridge.
Broccoli rabe + chickpea skillet with tahini yogurt sauce + toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons unsalted tahini
3 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
1/2 stalk of spring garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon) or 1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasses
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
freshly ground black pepper
1 bunch broccoli rabe, washed and trimmed (see discussion of trimming in post above)
extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, whacked with the side of a knife and peeled
big pinch of crushed red chile
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1-1/2 cups freshly cooked chickpeas
freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
Combine tahini, yogurt, garlic, molasses, lemon juice, olive oil, and cumin in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper and stir to combine. Add a tablespoon or two of water to thin out to a pourable consistency. Set aside.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season generously with kosher salt. Add broccoli rabe and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer cooked greens to a bowl; reserve 1/4 cup of cooking liquid.
In a large skillet heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic cloves and a big pinch of crushed red chile. Cook for a minute or two until garlic is fragrant. Add chickpeas and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add broccoli rabe and toss to coat with olive oil. Cook for a few minutes, then add reserved cooking liquid. Cook for 5 minutes more.
Finish broccoli rabe mixture with a drizzle of olive oil and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature with tahini yogurt sauce and toasted pine nuts.