06 September 2013

Pressure cooker special: Chick Peas and Oricchiette in Silky Broth

Are pressure cookers cool again? America's Test Kitchen has a new pressure cooker-specific cook book (it's quite practical) and they even brought them out on Hell's Kitchen for a challenge last spring.  If you don't get the appeal of a crock pot (I don't), try a pressure cooker: it's fast, efficient, and yields perfectly textured dried beans, brown rice, and all cuts of meat without having to crank up the heat in the kitchen all day.  I'll admit, I have the old rocker kind, but I think this recipe will work even better with one of those new-fangled models that features a quick release (and is safer and all that crap).  But if you have the old-school kind like me, just run it under some cold water after 20 minutes to get the chick peas out before they overcook--that's how I did it.

Roasting the chick peas might seem too fussy, and this will still be a fine dish without doing that, but the nuttiness and addition of a firm texture in this stew is my favorite part of the whole thing.

Chick Peas and Oricchiette in Silky Broth

Serves 6

1 cup dried chick peas, rinsed and sorted
3 garlic cloves
½ medium carrot, scrubbed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
4 cups water
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon paprika
3 cups Swiss chard, washed and chopped
1 small zucchini, diced
Handful fresh basil, chiffonaded
2 cups oricchiette or other small pasta shape
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Soak chick peas overnight.

Place soaked chick peas, garlic, carrot, tomato paste, bay leaf, water, olive oil, salt, and paprika in a pressure cooker and cook 20 minutes.  End cooking with a quick release and scoop out chick peas with a strainer.  Place chick peas on a cookie sheet in a single layer and salt lightly.  Place in a 450°F oven for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy.  (Roasting the chick peas can be skipped if you prefer to just keep them soft.)

Meanwhile, discard the bay leaf from the pressure cooker and place the broth in a blender.  Blend until smooth, adding a little more water if it’s too thick.  Add salt to taste and replace to pressure cooker.  Stir in Swiss chard, zucchini, basil, and oricchiette and cover with a regular pot lid.  Place over medium-low heat and cook until the pasta is soft (this should take about the same time as roasting the chick peas).   If you choose not to roast the chick peas, keep them out of the liquid until the end so retain shape.

When pasta is al dente and chick peas are roasted, stir in the chick peas, chopped tomato, and lemon juice.  Serve in bowls with crusty bread.

Getting ready to roast...