Veggie-centric dinner

Kale and Chickpeas in Pomodoro Sauce hits the spot.

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Chickpeas and kale. —Lexi Pline

In the ongoing quest for tasty and tempting plant-based meals, I happened upon this recipe from foodandwine.com, and then I made it my own. (The website’s version adds fennel seeds, marjoram, and fresh basil, and I didn’t have them on hand.) My recipe has everyday sort of ingredients, and couldn’t be more simple. 

The thing that sealed the deal for me is the tomato sauce, because it’s bursting with flavor. It was a surprise to me. I have low expectations regarding a plateful of veggies at the time of day when I’m used to a nice bratwurst with a side of chicken wings topped by a half-pound of bacon. But since my family likes kale and they like chickpeas, I knew the two together had a pretty good chance of making beautiful music. 

We like to try new vegetable dishes, and sometimes, if you add beans to them, you get a near-full feeling. I’m learning that it’s really all about the spices and the way you cook the vegetables. If I had to eat steamed broccoli with zucchini and carrots forever, I’d do a “Thelma and Louise” before it was all said and done. Thankfully, we have the Internet, and I can find just about any recipe in the world there. This one doesn’t leave you still starving, and I don’t think a second helping is going to hurt anyone anyway.

I’ll walk you through the basics. Pomodoro (that’s tomato in Italian) sauce is typically a light sauce, but this one gets an extra kick with a couple of shakes of red pepper flakes and lots of garlic to start with. Hope you like it.

Kale and Chickpeas in Pomodoro Sauce

¼ cup olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 shakes of red pepper flakes
1 bunch kale, chopped
1 generous pinch of kosher salt
2 15-oz. cans no-salt chickpeas, drained

Heat the olive oil on medium while you slice the garlic. Add it to the oil and let it cook a few minutes, stirring once or twice. Pour the crushed tomatoes into the oil and garlic, and add the red pepper flakes. Stir and let it cook for about 15 minutes on low, then add the chopped kale and a pinch of kosher salt. Stir everything together until the kale is coated with sauce, put the lid on the pan and keep the heat on low, cooking the kale for about 20 minutes. 

Add the drained chickpeas and stir. Keep cooking for another 10 minutes or so until it’s all heated through. 

Dish it up and top with some shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese. 

This serves four easily, but only three at my house because we love it so much.