Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans and Preserved Lemons

960_GKES_usepreservesNeni often eats a vegetable stew with homemade bread, maybe a piece of cheese, and a few cured olives. It’s a marvelous way to eat: light, inexpensive, healthy. I’ve gotten into the practice, too, and am sleeping better because of it!  BTW, avoid the temptation to put more smoked paprika in the dish. It will overpower everything and will make the dish look like a bloody mess. (You can tell, I made this mistake once!) Serves 2 as an entre or 4 as a side dish

3/4 cup olive oil
2 cups sliced onion
2 bunches Swiss chard (about 2 lbs)
6 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon hot paprika
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch saffron
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 can drained garbanzo beans (or 1 one cup rehydrated beans boiled in 2 cups of water until tender)
½ cup chopped tomatoes
1 whole preserved lemon, chopped
Juice and zest from 1 lemon (optional)

Pour ¼ cup of oil in the bottom of a wide sauté pot with a fitted lid. (Actually, the lid doesn’t have to fit, as you will only partially cover during cooking.) Heat the oil over a medium high heat and add the onions. Sauté until the onions are soft, about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, wash the chard well, and trim the stem ends. Chop the stems into bite sized pieces and set aside. Chop the leaves into bite sized pieces.

Add the garlic, ginger, hot and smoked paprika and saffron to the onions. Stir to combine, and then add the chard stems. Cook for a few minutes until the stems begin to soften, and then add the rest of the chard. Season to taste. Cook the chard for 5 minutes, until the leaves wilt, and then add the garbanzo beans, tomatoes, 1/3 cup of olive oil, and the preserved lemon. Lower the heat to low and partially cover. Cook for 30 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the sauce is aromatic.

Before serving, add the lemon juice and zest to taste, if you like.


4 Comments on “Swiss Chard with Garbanzo Beans and Preserved Lemons

  1. This dish sounds so flavorful. I am intrigued by the use of fresh ginger, along with the two paprikas and saffron. I have never used ginger, fresh or otherwise, in combination with beans and chard. Is this a typical Greek preparation? The preserved lemon also must inject its own brand of brightness, lifting the other flavors and bringing them into focus. I am so enjoying these dishes as Greek cuisine overall, is quite unknown to me.

    • Hi Adri,
      I am so happy that you liked this recipe. No, it’s not a traditional Greek recipe; although ginger has been known in Greece since antiquity it has fallen to disuse except for a few places. This is my recipe based very loosely on a Moroccan one for fennel with shrimp. Preserved lemons are not used on their own in Greece except when they are brined and pickled together with green cracked olives. The paprika (not ground, but in flakes, smoked, sweet, and in varying degrees of hotness) is widely used all along the northern provinces (Macedonia, Thrace, and Epirus), and somewhat on Crete. Saffron is both produced and used in the North (in Kozani, whose saffron is of superb quality), and on the Dodecanese Islands (where it is used sparingly in festive dishes). Thanks for asking! Neni

  2. Fantastic recipe! Some recipes are good and satisfying but are just that and no more. But this one…I couldn’t stop eating it and after seconds, my friend and I just finished the whole pot of it. Didn’t have preserved lemons but that didn’t prevent me from making the dish since I had everything else in the kitchen. Still great. Thanks! It’s a keeper!

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