Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Nivik - Chickpeas with Spinach

There's a simple way to know when you've been reading cookbooks too much: when recipes begin to invade your dreams. For the past week I've taken to browsing my cookbooks at night if I am having trouble falling asleep, making a mental list of things I'd like to make in the near future. What with my recent Turkish dessert and plans to make an Armenian chickpea dish, I dreamed that I combined Turkish and Armenian cuisine, then laughed at how horribly inappropriate it would be. Ahahahaha! Wicked.

Bland, I know, but what you are expecting from a dream about recipes? Fortunately, Armenian nivik is not bland, but instead tasty (the sum of its parts, but better) and super easy to make. Plus, there are no fancy or specialized ingredients and everything is wallet-friendly (if that's a concern of yours.) I soaked dried chickpeas overnight and cooked them until tender the next day, just as the recipe suggests, but I personally hate the time involved so next time will use three cans of chickpeas instead and no one will be the wiser. I also found that a dollop of sour cream on top makes the dish even more heavenly, but only if that's your thing.

I served this as a main dinner dish, but it would also work as a side or maybe a light lunch. It can be served cold, but I think it tastes best when warm.

The Complete Middle East Cookbook

 1 1/2cups dried chickpeas (garbanzo beans) OR 3-4 15oz cans cooked
1 large onion, chopped
1/4cup olive oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
black pepper
1tsp sugar
750g (1 1/2lb) spinach, roughly chopped (stems removed)

1. If using dried peas, wash well and soak in 4 1/2 cups cold water overnight, preferably in a cool place. Next day simmer peas (in soaking water) for two hours or until tender. Otherwise, pour cooked peas with about 1/2 cup of their liquid into a large saucepan and heat on low.
2. In a separate pan gently fry onion in oil until transparent. Add tomato paste, about 2 teaspoons salt, a generous grinding of black pepper and the sugar.  Add mixture to cooked chickpeas.
3.  Add spinach and simmer for 20-30 minutes, until spinach is wilted and tender. Add additional water only if necessary. Nivik should be moist, but not liquidy. 
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste; enjoy!

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