Sunday, February 10, 2013

brown rice with toasted chickpeas and fried onions

I get a lot of satisfaction from multi-tasking, especially if it doesn't feel like it. Like riding my bike to work. I get my daily work out whilst I commute. There's only one other thing that makes me feel even more accomplished and smug: cooking in my sleep. I ALWAYS cook beans overnight in the slow cooker. It always used to be black beans I'd cook with the most frequency but I've been on a chickpea bender of late. They are just sooooo freakin' good. I cook them in chicken bouillon seasoned water with either a big sprig of thyme or rosemary. In the wee hours of the morning, I'm momentarily disoriented by the amazing aromas wafting through the room, wondering which evil neighbor tortures me with their enticing feats of cookery. I love that!
This  is a riff on a recipe I found in Jerusalem, the new and brilliant cookbook from London Chefs/Restauranteurs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.
I usually cook off a big pot of rice on Sunday to have on hand through out the week so I can make fried rice--my favorite and off-the-hook delish, refrigerator rescue.
This is where that jar of caramelized onions comes in handy-- you know, that one you made yesterday.
Toasted breadcrumbs are another great make-ahead.
Ottolenghi uses a combination of basmati and wild rice (much more attractive and I'm thinkin' much more flavorful in the finished dish) but I didn't have any on hand. He also finishes with fresh dill and oregano-didn't have any of that either, so I used dry. I truly believe that my sub-par substitions were off-set by the brilliance of the caramelized onions-the link below will take you to my method of preparation. You're going to want to make these onions ahead of time, in fact everything here can be made ahead and then tossed together and warmed in the oven or tossed in a skillet to heat everything through.

Brown Rice with Toasted Chickpeas and Fried Onions
adapted from Jerusalem

2 cups of cooked rice

Caramelized Onions
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 large onions, sliced about 1/4 inch thick
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

Toasted Chickpeas
2 cups of cooked or canned chickpeas
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon za'atar
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
a few grinds of pepper

Toasted bread crumbs
4-5 slices of day old bread
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper-about 4 turns of the grinder
2 teaspoons za'atar

Fried Onions
1 medium onion sliced thinly
2 teaspoons flour
2/3 cup vegetable oil

2 cups cooked rice

1 tablespoons chopped flat leaf Italian parsley

Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Tear up the bread and pulse in the food processor 4-5 times until the largest crumbs are about the size of a large crouton. Transfer to a medium sized bowl and drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat, sprinkle the salt all over, grind the pepper all over and sprinkle the za'atar all over and toss. spread the crumbs onto a large baking sheet and bake for 5 minutes, toss and redistribute the crumbs on the baking sheet and bake for another 3 minutes. Remove from the oven and let the crumbs cool on the sheet pan. Transfer the crumbs into a bowl and set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked chickpeas with olive oil, salt, za'atar, cumin, paprika and pepper then spread them out on a large sheet pan, being careful not to crowd them or else they'll steam and not crisp well. Bake for 10 minutes, shake the baking sheet to move the chickpeas around a bit and bake for 10 more minutes, until they're slightly crispy. Remove from the oven and let them cool on the baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, toss in your sliced onions and sprinkle flour over top and toss lightly. Heat up the oil in a medium sauce pan over high heat. Drop a piece of the onion in. It should sizzle and bubble vigorously. Working in batches cook the onion until it browns, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with salt.
In a large bowl, add the warm rice, chickpeas, caramelized onions and fried onions. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of za'atar over the surface and mix in. The za'atar can also be added after the rice is served.
Top with toasted breadcrumbs.

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