It’s been a pretty faux-winter here so far in New England (knock on wood). Still, even with the lack of snow late February can be tricky, culinarily speaking. Not quite deep winter, where you crave hibernation fare. But not yet early spring, where the days get a little longer and you can actually find produce at the store that’s not a root vegetable.
When I got home the other day, I was craving something green. But who am I kidding? It was (sort of) cold, and I also wanted something warm and crunchy, and maybe even a little bit cheesy.
One of my favorite cold weather recipes is this one from the New York Times. Broccoli rabe is, in my opinion, an under appreciated green, and it tastes great mixed with browned chips of garlic and the bite of the red pepper flakes. But since spring is (maybe) just around the corner , I decided to lighten the preparation a bit: use Panko breadcrumbs and toss these greens with chickpeas instead of pasta. It was the perfect compromise for the in-between days of waning winter. And it’s a good canvas for variations. I imagine it would be quite tasty with a different green, or thrown over pasta, quinoa, or rice.
Beans and Greens with Garlic and Panko Breadcrumbs
- 4 cloves of garlic
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 bunch broccoli rabe
- 1 can of chickpeas
- salt and parmesan cheese to taste
Rinse the can of chickpeas. Pour them into an oiled skillet and fry them on medium-low heat for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep them from sticking. They should become browned and slightly crunchy. (And they actually make a really good snack on their own tossed with salt and pepper. But this time, try to conserve them for use later on in the recipe.)
While those are cooking, peel the garlic cloves and slice lengthwise into thin “chips”. Lightly fry in the remaining olive oil on medium-high heat, flipping to allow them to cook on each side. When they have browned (4-8 minutes), add the breadcrumbs and red pepper flakes, sautee for 1-2 more minutes, then take off the heat.
Boil 4 cups of water. Rinse the broccoli rabe, and cut or tear into 1-2 inch pieces. When the water boils, lightly salt it and drop in the rabe. Cook for 5 minutes. Then pull the rabe out with a slotted spoon. Reserve 1/3 cup of the cooking water.
When the greens, chickpeas, and garlic mixture are all prepared, combine in the large skillet with the cooking water and heat for 1-2 minutes. Finish with salt and parmesan to taste. Enjoy!