Monday, May 15, 2006


Fideos With Chickpeas and Beet Greens

Slow Food is …the name of an international movement…to promote good food and the artisans who create it…” - The Pleasures of Slow Food

A few days ago I came across a recipe in The Pleasures of Slow Food cookbook that had me giddy with excitement. The title of this dish was the self explanatory (ha) Fideos with Special Chickpeas and Saffron. (Fideos, so far as I can ascertain, is toasted pasta.) The ingredients seemed terrifically incompatible and the method overly complex and labor intensive. But the idea of it all piqued my curiosity and heaven knows, I delved right in. I mean come on, how can I girl resist a recipe that seems to include every spice in the cabinet, should take a few hours, dirty every dish in the joint and end up being deeeelicious.

What also intrigued me was that (I had every ingredient without a trip to the market? Well, the helped) it seemed to be a fancified, over-zealous version of pasta with mole sauce, and I do love me the mole sauce. It’s so…historic, and not knowing much about Slow Food, this seemed like a great introduction. Plus, I wanted to try my sassy new vanilla salt.

So on with the show. (Perhaps a touch too) bright and early in the morning, I gathered my mise en place, made a few substitutions and began. Almost an hour and a half later, with a heck of a lot of assorted culinary equipment in the sink, I had my masterpiece. It was indeed pasta with mole sauce, silky, rich, complex, sweet, spicy, hearty, unique (perhaps a bit wintery. OK, altogether wintery) and a fantastic new way to enjoy your pasta.

On a side note, one of those things that I sort of always feel like only the Italians pay attention to, is that every pasta type has a purpose (to an extent.) and angel hair is meant for soup. End of story. Or so I thought until I tried this. The toasting gave a slight nuttiness and it the ability to hold up to the sauce without going all mush on me. Fan-tastic.

So when you have some free time, and the inclination to make a hearty pasta dish that is absolutely different than anything you have had lately, go on and try this…and enjoy.

(Ingredients Adapted, method, the same)

16 oz. Chickpeas
1 tablespoon oil
1 onion, rough chop
2 cloves garlic, peeled, minced
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon saffron (optional)
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Vanilla scented salt
1 dried New Mexico chile
2 cups tomatoes in juice
3 cups water
1 pound angel hair pasta
Olive oil
1 cup beet greens, chiffonade

In a large soup pot, sauté the garlic, onion, chile, saffron, coriander and cumin until slightly wilted and fragrant. Add the tomato, vanilla salt (if not using vanilla salt, use regular salt and a vanilla pod, sliced lengthwise) 1 cup of water and the cocoa. Stir to combine, reduce the heat and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350F, break the pasta into 2 inch pieces, spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until slightly browned, about 4 t0 8 minutes. Remove promptly and set aside.

When the sauce is reduced slightly, taste, adjust the salt, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Puree and pour through a fine mesh strainer to remove all of the solids (I know! It seems like such a waste really. I suppose you could skip this step, but the straining really does make it quite the outrageously silky sauce.)

In yet another, shallow pan, bring the 3 cups of salted water (or you could use chicken broth) to a boil, add the pasta and let cook for 1 minute at a rolling boil. Add the chickpeas and cook until the water has all been absorbed.

Meanwhile (I know! Again!) sauté the beet greens in the olive oil (adding some garlic might be nice too, but do as you wish.) until just wilted.

When the pasta is cooked, add the sauce and beet greens.

Serves four to six

*** WOW...I had a bit of this sauce leftover and ate it a few days later, there just aren't words for how good it was after the flavors melded. Beyond superlatives.***


The threads that make up saffron must be picked from each flower by hand and more than 1,60,000 of these flowers are needed to produce just one kilogram ofSaffron filaments.

California has lost its battle to require warning labels on canned tuna after a state judge concluded any warning of mercury contamination would needlessly scare people away from the fish. - The Oakland Tribune

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Fascinating ... just a quick perusal of the ingredients would suggest 'ordinary' (well except for the vanilla salt) so it's great that you emphasized that it truly is unusual.
I am feeling snarky and have to disagree with AK. Chocolate, vanilla, chiles and saffron with toasted pasta is not ordinary in my world!

Perhaps she didnt peruse the recipe as well as she says

"Peruse: to examine or consider with attention and in detail"
Now Myrna, play nice...
AK was being complimentary!

Thank you AK!
"Fideos" is spaghetti in Spanish.
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