warm up in the new year — with moroccan braised chickpeas with chard

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Thing are finally quieting down and a new year is unfolding. If you’re like me, you’re wanting to ground down a little and get back on track with eating wholesome meals and cooking at home. This simple, warming, vegetarian recipe is a great way to ‘restart’ your healthy habits. It’s a perfect heart lunch, side dish, or light supper.

Ras-el-haout is a Moroccan spice blend that hits sweet, spicy, and savory notes. Translated, it means ‘head of the shop’ – meaning it’s the best blend in the store. On my recent trip to Morocco, the men in the shop told me it’s like Moroccan curry powder – and favorited by bad cooks as all the work is done for you. You can make your own — I like this recipe — or pick it up available at most grocery stores. In Chicago, I like getting it at the Middle East Bakery in Andersonville.

Moroccan braised chickpeas with chard

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons fresh ginger, minced
1 tablespoon ras-el-hanout
1 bunch chard (or kale or collards) stems removed and chopped, leaves torn into bite size pieces
¼ cup dried apricot, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups cooked chickpeas
1 cup water or stock
¼ cup fresh mint or cilantro

Procedure:

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic and ginger and sauté until soft and fragrant – about 3-5 minutes. Add ras-el-hanout and turmeric; sauté an additional 1-2 minutes. Add stems from chard and dried apricots; stir. Add tomato paste; stir and let cook for 1-2 miunutes. Add chickpeas, season generously with salt and pepper; stir to combine. Add stock, stir and let simmer until sauce thickens – about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in leaves of chard until wilted. Garnish with mint and/or cilantro.

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