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V Cous Cous with Fennel, Chard and Chick Peas
From Martha Rose Shulman; Recipes for Health for the NY Times; makes 4 large servings; about 2 hours to prepare, plus soaking time.
1/2 pound (1 1/8 cups) chickpeas, soaked in 1 quart water for four to six hours or overnight
1 bunch Swiss chard, stemmed, leaves washed and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 leek, white part only, cleaned and sliced ; or a second onion chopped
2 medium or 1 large fennel bulb, trimmed (save fronds), cored and chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, ground
1 teaspoon caraway seeds, ground
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, ground
1 tablespoon harissa (more to taste; substitute 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper if harissa is unavailable), plus additional for serving
1 tablespoon tomato paste dissolved in 1/2 cup water
Salt to taste
1 1/3 cups couscous
Drain the chickpeas and transfer to a large pot. Add 1 1/2 quarts water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer one hour while you prepare the remaining ingredients.
Tear the chard leaves off the stems. Wash the stems and dice. Wash the leaves thoroughly and chop coarsely. Set aside. Chop the fennel fronds, and set aside.
Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy casserole, Dutch oven or, if you have one, in the bottom of a couscousier. Add the onion, leek, fennel and a generous pinch of salt, and cook, stirring, until tender, five to eight minutes. Add the chard stems, and stir together for a couple of minutes until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and ground spices, and stir together for 30 seconds to a minute until the garlic is fragrant. Add the harissa or cayenne and the dissolved tomato paste, and stir together for another minute or two. Add the chickpeas with their cooking liquid, plus another cup of water if you think there should be more liquid in the pot. Stir together, and bring back to a simmer. Add salt, cover, and simmer 30 minutes to an hour until the chickpeas are thoroughly tender and the broth fragrant.
Stir in the chard greens and chopped fennel fronds. Simmer 10 to 15 minutes, until the greens are very tender and fragrant. Remove from the heat. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding salt, garlic or harissa as desired.
Cook cous cous according to package directions. Serve in wide bowls, top with the stew and serve.
Advance preparation: This dish can be prepared to right before adding the greens up to three days ahead and refrigerated. Bring back to a simmer, and proceed as directed. The stew keeps well in the refrigerator for three or four days.