Healthy Italian Cooking at Home

Tag Archives: chickpeas

Chickpea Plant

Chickpeas are perhaps better known by their Spanish name garbanzo beans. They are a roundish, beige member of the legume family grown primarily in western Asia, India, and in the Mediterranean. Most people are familiar with chickpeas as either used whole in salads, or ground up to make the popular Middle Eastern dish hummus.

The name chickpea came from the French word chiche and Italians call them ceci beans. In Italian the word ‘ceci’ means both wart and chickpea. At some stage it was believed that you could cure warts by touching it to a chickpea plant at a new moon.

Chick peas are also a frequent ingredient in Italian dishes. They may be used to make pasta and beans. They are often added to marinated vegetables and are usually on an antipasto platter. They may also be recognizable as a staple in three-bean salad, which is comprised of green beans, kidney beans and chick peas and pickled with vinegar or stored in vinegar and oil.

Chick peas are an excellent nutritional choice. A serving of chick peas, about 4 ounces or half a cup, has about 17 grams of dietary fiber and 19 grams of protein. They are also considered more digestible than most other beans. Dried chick peas cook much more quickly than other dried beans.

Chickpea Pod

Shelled Chickpeas

Salad or Side Course

Chickpea and Spinach Salad

Serves 4

Great as a side salad with grilled meat, it can also work as a vegetarian entree.

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                             

  • One 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, low-sodium, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons Greek nonfat yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
  • 1/4 teaspoon honey
  • 2 ounces baby spinach leaves (about 2 cups lightly packed)
  • 1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh mint

Directions:

 In a medium bowl, combine the chickpeas, parsley and onion.

 In a small bowl whisk together the oil, lemon juice and zest, oregano, cayenne, salt, and black pepper.

 Pour the dressing over the chickpea mixture and toss to coat evenly.

 In another small bowl stir together the yogurt, orange juice and zest, and honey.

 Serve the chickpea salad over a bed of spinach leaves. Top with the yogurt sauce and garnish with the mint.

Mediterranean Chickpea Salad

Serves 6

Ingredients:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

  • 8 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in water to cover, soaking liquid reserved
  • or  two 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, low-sodium, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 16 whole black peppercorns, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) yellow or red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 English cucumber (8 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1/2 red or green bell pepper, ribs and seeds removed, cut into 1/2-inch dice (1 cup)
  • 2 carrots (4 ounces), cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 3 scallions, sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons shredded fresh basil

Directions:

 Place chickpeas, soaking liquid, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a large pot. Liquid should cover beans by 2 inches; adjust as necessary. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are tender, about 40 minutes. Drain, and transfer to a bowl. (Makes 3 cups chickpeas.) Or substitute two 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, low-sodium, drained and rinsed.

 Using a chef’s knife, press flat side of the blade back and forth across garlic and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt to make a paste. Transfer to a bowl, and whisk in peppercorns, vinegar, oil, and oregano. Pour dressing over chickpeas. Let stand, stirring once or twice, for 30 minutes. Mix in tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, carrots, scallions, parsley, and basil.

Vegetarian Main Dishes

Cauliflower and Chickpea Stew

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 chopped celery stalk
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seed
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 can low sodium chopped tomatoes (15 ounces)
  • 2 cans low sodium chickpeas (15 ounces each), rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped 

Directions:

 Preheat the oven to 400º F. Toss together the cauliflower, 3 tablespoons olive oil and a little salt and place on a baking sheet. Roast until fork tender, about 8-10 minutes. Set aside.

 In a large pot, heat the remaining olive oil over a medium-high flame. Add in the shallots, carrot, celery and garlic and cook until vegetables are tender. Add in the Italian seasoning, fennel seed and cayenne pepper and stir about 15 seconds.

 Turn the heat down to a simmer and add in the vegetable stock, chopped tomatoes, chickpeas and roasted cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer the stew over medium heat until it thickens slightly, about 20 minutes.

This stew can be served over rice or couscous.

Chickpea Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce

Makes 4 chickpea cakes and 1 cup cucumber-yogurt sauce

Sauce

  • 1/2 an English cucumber, grated
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

 Arrange the grated cucumber in a colander in the sink and sprinkle with salt. Let drain for 10 minutes and place on a paper towel. Squeeze dry. Stir in the remaining ingredients together in a serving bowl and add the cucumber. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Cakes

  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 15 ounces canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), mashed fine with a fork
  • 1/2 cup plain panko crumbs
  • 1 green onion, white and green parts, chopped fine
  • Olive oil, for sauteeing

Directions:

While the cucumber drains, in a large bowl, whisk the egg, then whisk in the yogurt, olive oil, spices and seasoning. Stir in the chickpeas, panko, green onion and cilantro, combining without overworking. Evenly divide mixture in four; gently form four one-inch thick patty with your hands, compressing the mixture just enough to hold it together. Place on a plate and cover with waxed paper.  Refrigerate for an hour or longer.

In a large skillet, heat oil just enough oil to barely cover the bottom of the skillet until shimmery. Add the chickpea cakes and cook without moving for four to five minutes per side or until golden and hot clear through.

Serve with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce on the side.

Tip: These cakes can be made ahead and reheated on a grill pan or outdoor grill. They also freeze well.

Main Dishes

Grilled Fish With Chickpea Artichoke Salad

4 Servings

Ingredients:

Fish

  • 2 tablespoons ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse black  pepper
  • 4 thick fish fillets (salmon, tuna, or swordfish; 1 1/2 lb)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

Chickpeas

  • 1/2 cup canned or frozen quartered artichokes, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 bag baby arugula leaves (4–5 oz)
  • 1/2 cup canned chickpeas (garbanzos), drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Heat outdoor grill or grill pan. Brush fish with olive oil.

Combine fennel, salt, and pepper; then coat both sides of fish.

Grill fish 5 minutes on each side or until 145°F registers on a thermometer and fish flakes easily.

Chop artichokes and onion.

Combine arugula, chickpeas, onions, and artichokes.

Whisk vinegar, oil, salt, and pepper until blended; add to salad. Toss.

Serve grilled fish over chickpea salad.

Spicy Penne with Broccoli, Sausage and Chickpeas                             

4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch broccoli or broccoli rabe; trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 pound penne or whole wheat penne
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound Italian hot sausage, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic; finely chopped
  • 1 –  15-oz can chickpeas; rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon oregano; freshly chopped
  • 1 15-oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup Pecorino-Romano cheese
  • Crushed red pepper flakes 

 Directions:

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add penne, and cook 4 minutes less than package instructions; add broccoli. Cook 2 minutes or until penne is al dente and broccoli is bright green. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, drain pasta and broccoli; set aside.

 Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage and brown, about 5-6 minutes.

Add garlic to sausage and cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and chickpeas. Season with salt, crushed red pepper and oregano, and simmer for a few minutes. Add pasta, broccoli and reserved cooking liquid to the sauce and heat.

Add cheese and toss to coat.

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Cauliflower, which literally means cabbage flower –  is not the flower of the cabbage. The history of cauliflower is traced to the origin of wild cabbage. This wild plant used to have a similar look to kale and is believed to have originated in the ancient times in Asia Minor. After a lot of transformations, the vegetable, as we know it, developed in the Mediterranean region around 600 BC.  It has been widely accepted in Turkish and Italian cuisines.

Described by Arab botanists and known to the Romans, the cauliflower originally came from Cyprus, and was introduced to France from Italy in the middle of the 16th century. Today, food writers are extremely fond of quoting Mark Twain’s contention that  “Training is everything,” he wrote, “A peach was once a bitter almond; a cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.”  Twain could be saying that a cauliflower is just a cabbage that resembles a brain (which, indeed, it does); the absence of many other quotes about this vegetable, however, speak clearly to the cauliflower’s humble status in the food world.

Though cauliflower has a bland taste of its own, it is highly regarded by vegetarians, however, in Italian cuisine, cauliflower is often paired with sausage in pasta dishes or other meats. Cauliflower tends to absorb flavor from the spices and sauces used in preparing cauliflower recipes. As a vegetable, it is often used in stews, casseroles and even in salads. Usually, cauliflower is eaten as a cooked vegetable that can be boiled, steamed or fried before adding to any dish. Baked cauliflower dishes are quite popular in Western cuisine. Cauliflower, like broccoli and cabbage, belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables which has been shown to be effective in fighting certain forms of cancer, however, these vegetables also contain sulfur compounds that can smell unpleasant. 

PREPARATION:

Remove the green leaves. Core out the stem. Then cut the cauliflower in florets.

The florets can be steamed, which takes between 12 and 15 minutes, or microwaved, which takes 8 to 10 minutes. Remember, shorter cooking is better for retaining nutrients and reducing the smell in your kitchen.

The best way to prevent these compounds from turning your kitchen into a chemistry lab is to minimally cook the cauliflower. For stir-frys and in salads, cook the cauliflower about halfway, then refresh in cold water.

A majority of recipes cover cauliflower in cheese sauces. A healthier option is lemon butter with chives. In addition to putting florets in omelets, try them in quiches.

In addition to the smell, overcooking also diminishes the nutrients significantly. In fact, you can reduce the levels of some vitamins in vegetables by cooking them with one method over another. A while back, food writer Mark Bittman quoted a Cornell University study in a New York Times article, that stated that 100 grams of cauliflower had 55 mg of vitamin C after boiling, 70 after steaming, and 82 after being cooked in the microwave oven.

Unfried Cauliflower Italian Style

This recipe is an adaption of my mother’s Italian Breaded Parmesan Cauliflower  recipe which she fried. The trick with baking them is to make sure they don’t overcook or undercook. The recipe  features an egg dipped cauliflower with a simple coating of flour, spices and cheese. No breadcrumbs needed, and while being lower in fat than the fried version, it tastes just as good.


Ingredients

  • 1 whole cauliflower broken into small pieces

  • 3 eggs or ¾ cups egg substitute

  • 2 cups flour

  • 3 teaspoons salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese


Directions

Cut apart the Cauliflower into small pieces.

Rinse them off and drain them.

Grease 2 large 13×9 inch glass baking dishes with olive oil.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl beat the eggs with a fork or fill with egg substitute, and then fill another bowl with the flour, cheese, and spices that will be used for the coating.

Dip each piece of cauliflower first into the egg, and then into the flour mixture, making sure they are coated evenly on all sides.

Put them on the greased baking dish, and bake for a half hour, flipping them over with a fork halfway through the cooking time. You can also add more oil to the baking dish if it gets too dry.

Cauliflower  Fritatta

Serves 4

5 whole eggs plus 3/4 cups egg substitute

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper taste

3 cups steamed  or microwaved cauliflower florets

2 teaspoons butter

Combine eggs, cheese and seasonings in a mixing bowl. Mix well and stir in cauliflower. Turn oven to broil.

Put butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until hot – when it stops sizzling. Add egg mixture and reduce heat to as low as possible. When the eggs are set on the bottom but the top is still slightly runny, put the pan under the broiler at least six inches from the flame. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until just set. Be careful not to overcook. Turn the pan to cook evenly. When done, remove from the broiler and slide onto a plate. Let cool until warm or room temperature and cut into 4 wedges.


Roasted Cauliflower with Chickpeas

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 – 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed or 2 cups cooked dried beans
  • 1 cup Progresso Italian bread crumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss cauliflower, garlic and chickpeas with the olive oil along with the salt and red pepper, and spread on a baking sheet. Roast in a single layer, turning once during cooking, until chickpeas are golden and starting to turn crunchy, 20-25 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with bread crumbs and return to the oven for 5 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

Roasted Peppers and Cauliflower

Directions
Place the cauliflower, red peppers and onions in a shallow roasting pan. Add the oil, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Bake, uncovered, at 425° for 20 minutes. Stir; bake 10 minutes longer or until vegetables are tender and lightly browned. Transfer to a serving bowl; sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and parsley. Yield: 6 servings.

Penne with Italian Sausage, Cauliflower and Rosemary

Serves 4
2 teaspoons salt
1 pound whole wheat penne
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
4 links Italian sausage, cut into bite-size pieces
2 sprigs rosemary, chopped
1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
½ to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1-28oz. container Pomi chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan

1. Bring a large pot of water and the salt to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it’s hot and shimmering, add the onions and sausage and stir briefly. Leave the sausage alone to brown for 2 minutes. Stir it again then add the rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn soft, another 2 minutes.

3. Add the cauliflower and season it with a sprinkling of salt and pepper and the red pepper flakes. Add the tomatoes and a splash of the pasta water and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender, 6 minutes.

4. Drain the pasta and toss it with sauce, adding more pasta water if it looks too dry. (There should be just enough liquid in the pan to coat the pasta.) Stir in the parmesan.

 

Pasta with Roasted Cauliflower and Red Onions

Serves 4

  • 1 small head cauliflower (about 1 1⁄2 lb), cored and sliced 1⁄2-in. thick
  • 1 red onion, cut into 1⁄2-in.-thick wedges
  • cup fresh sage, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • ½  cup golden raisins
  • 12 ounces whole-grain penne
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  1. Heat oven to 425ºF. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the cauliflower, onion, sage, oil, and 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper; roast for 15 minutes. Add the raisins and toss to incorporate. Continue roasting until the vegetables are golden brown and tender, 8 to 10 minutes more.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve ½ cup pasta water. Drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
  3. Add the vegetable mixture, pasta water and Parmesan to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve with additional Parmesan, if desired.



Mason Disick Eating

Disney’s Lady and the Tramp

Years ago, Italians often took three hour lunch breaks and ate mutli-course meals.  As times have changed, it is more rare for Italian families to gather at the table during lunch and have a full home-made meal. Italy’s economical situation is such that many mothers have had to take on full-time jobs, children are in school until mid-afternoon and most people do not have time to go home during lunch time.  Typically, people working in offices have a 1-hour break and eat lunch at a bar or pasticceria, that offers foods to go, such as fresh made sandwiches, prepared salads, or square slices of pizza or stuffed focaccia.    Italian sandwiches aren’t multi-layered, American style sandwiches but, usually,  just  simple focaccia bread with a few lean slices of prosciutto, some sliced tomatoes with mozzarella or pecorino cheese.  Italian pizzas are very thin. have limited toppings and are usually vegetarian.   Bread without butter and salads are also very common at lunch. Pastas are also popular and usually full of vegetables.  One exception is on Sundays, many families will have a large, 2-3 hour lunch and often eat this meal out in a restaurant.

As a child growing up in an Italian-American home, I remember Sundays were pretty much reserved for family. My father would take us to visit our grandparents or other relatives while my mother prepared the Sunday meal.  Sunday lunch was really dinner but held early in the afternoon. After my grandmother died, when I was quite young, my grandfather would often join us for Sunday dinner. As my children were growing up. I tried to make meals an important time to be together and we kept some of the traditions built around meals. Lunch, however, was lunch – a quick meal. Through the years I have gravitated toward lighter and healthy selections for lunch.

Antipasto

My favorite food for lunch is soup, so I keep a number of containers in the freezer to pull out when I feel like soup for lunch.  Salads or typical items found on an antipasto tray are also a favorite.

Below are two soup recipes that are substantial enough for lunch and two salad recipes that I hope you will enjoy.

        Tortellini Soup with Escarole

  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2-32 oz. cartons low sodium chicken broth (8 cups)
  • 1 bunch escarole (or 8 cups spinach) washed and cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1-9 oz. pkg. fresh tortellini
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese

Escarole is a leafy green vegetable and member of the chicory family, along with frisée, endive and Belgian endive. You can find it in the lettuce department of your supermarket.

Directions

In soup pot, heat oil and saute shallots for two minutes.

Add both containers of chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add tortellini, return to boiling, reduce heat to low, cover the pan, and simmer about 5 minutes.

Add the escarole and simmer until the greens are wilted.

Add parsley and salt and pepper to taste.  Serve soup with shaved Parmesan cheese strips.

Lentils are a small but nutritional member of the legume family and are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber.
Lentil colors range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black

Lentil Soup

  • 1 lb. dried brown lentils ( about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1/2 cup medium pearl barley
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1-16 oz can diced tomatoes, no salt added
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

Cover the lentils with water in a large bowl.  Let soak for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.

Heat oil in a large soup pot and add garlic, onion, celery, carrots and potato.

Cook, stirring several times, for 10 minutes.

Add water, chicken broth, lentils and barley. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover pot and simmer 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Check the lentils and barley, to see if they are tender, after 45 minutes.

Add tomatoes, oregano salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.

Salads

My favorite salad is made of fresh tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

4 servings

  • 1/2 pound fresh mozzarella cheese sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick

    Tomato Mozzarella Salad

  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves
  • Freshly-ground black pepper and salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

Alternate fresh mozzarella slices with sliced tomatoes, overlapping, in a circular design on a serving plate.  (See photo)

Tear fresh basil leaves and sprinkle liberally over the slices. Add salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Just before serving, drizzle with top-quality extra-virgin olive oil.

Chickpea Salad

4 servings

  • 1/4 cup slivered red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1- 19-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 8 ripe cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon drained capers, rinsed and coarsely chopped
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

Chickpeas are a legume used in many Mediterranean, Middle Eastern and Indian cuisines. Round and tan colored, chickpeas have a mild, nutty flavor. They are also known as garbanzo beans.

Whisk olive oil and lemon in a salad bowl. Add remaining ingredients and toss well. Chill.

Serve over tender lettuce leaves (such as, Bibb).

I like to top this salad with leftover shrimp or grilled tuna.  Roasted red peppers are also a good addition



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