There are some things in life that are both blissfully simple and completely satisfying at the same time. For instance, Spaghetti with Braised Kale. Everything about it is hearty and flavorful, but so simple to concoct. In fact, the reason for concocting it was that I happened to have very little left in my pantry before my trip to San Francisco (which you will all hear about later!).
I came across this recipe months ago in Molly Wizenberg's Cooking Life column in Bon Appetit mag. Her dishes are so simple (often consisting of only a handful of ingredients) but always so elegant and purposeful. This one was no different. However, I am a meat-eater by nature, and this dish is a bit lacking in the protein department... I began to hunt the wild jungle of my cupboard. What canned beast awaited me, in the shadows of the hot sauce? What elusive creature sat dustily in a forgotten crevice, between the rice vinegar and liquid smoke?!
Ah HA! What do we have here, lurking within? Garbanzo beans, of course. I buy a can at least every other time I go to the store, as I devour these little guys like popcorn...and ironically, this is almost what they became during the course of this dish. Fried chickpeas are SO EASY and SO CRAVEABLE, it's ridiculous. So without stalling any longer, I will tell you how to make Spaghetti with Braised Kale and Fried Chickpeas.
Spaghetti with Braised Kale original recipe by Molly Wizenberg, Bon Appetit October 2009
- 1 lb kale, large center ribs and stems removed, cut crosswise into 1/2 slices
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 8 garlic cloves
- 1/2 lb spaghetti (I used whole wheat)
- 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Finely grated Parmesan Cheese
So, Molly recommends lacinto kale, but that is not always readily available. I used regular curly kale, which was totally fine. Whatever kale you can get your paws on, rinse it well. Drain and transfer to a bowl, with water still clinging to the leaves.
In a large heavy pot, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add chopped onion, cooking until translucent and stirring occasionally. Add sliced garlic and sprinkle with salt. Cook until onion turns golden brown, continuing to stir occasionally. Add kale and the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil, using tongs to toss until wilted. Cover pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Feel free to cook this kale into submission, until extremely tender. Stir occasionally and add water by teaspoonfuls if it becomes dry.
In the meantime, boil a medium pot of salted water. Cook spaghetti until tender, but slightly firm when you chomp it. Using tongs, transfer pasta directly into the kale pot. Add lemon juice and a splash or two of the reserved pasta water. Toss to combine and add more liquid to your liking. Sprinkle spaghetti with grated parmesan cheese, fried chickpeas (see below), a grind of fresh black pepper and serve immediately.
- 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and painstakingly patted dry
- olive oil
- lemon zest
- sea salt
Rinse and drain the garbanzo beans. The really key step here is to make sure the garbanzo beans are VERY dry; this is what gives them the all-important crisp factor. I spin mine in a salad spinner, then lay them out on a paper towel to dry off. If you like, you may remove some of the translucent shells, though they often come off during this process anyway. If you are feeling lazy (and not dedicated to ultimate crispness, cough cough), just make sure they are not wet to the touch and get on with it.
In a skillet (I used my cast iron), generously pour olive oil, enough to thickly coat the bottom of the pan. heat on medium heat. When oil is hot, pour in chick peas, making sure to avoid splattering yourself with the oil. At this point I added salt and just let them do their thing, making sure to stir frequently. Let them get nice and browned- about 15 minutes. Don't forget about them, or you'll have unpleasantly charred chickpeas.
When the garbanzos have sufficiently browned, transfer them to a bowl. Sprinkle with a bit more sea salt, to taste and add the zest of a lemon. Stir, and snack. Add them to all kinds of dishes in need of crunch, like the above pasta dish, or just inhale them on their own. ADDICTIVE!!
Enjoy the simplicity and bright flavors (thanks, lemon!) of these two items separately or together... you won't regret it!