The Swiss chard and chickpea stew is delicious on its own without the meatballs, so save some for your vegan and vegetarian guests.
Bunch Swiss chard or rainbow chard (about 10 leaves)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 can cooked chickpeas, drained
For the meatballs:
1 lb. ground beef chuck
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch dried chili pepper
Olive oil for frying
Mix all meatball ingredients in a bowl except for the oil. Form into flat, 2-inch patties. Fry in a little olive oil in a nonstick pan over medium-high heat until the outsides are just browned, about 2 minutes per side. Set aside.
Remove stems from Swiss chard leaves and chop. Set aside. Slice green part of the leaves and keep in a separate bowl.
In a large, flat pan (about 11 inches wide) heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic and Swiss chard stems and sauté until golden, about 6 minutes. Push vegetables aside, add tomato paste into the center of the pan, and let it brown for a minute before mixing it with the vegetables. Add a cup of water, lemon juice, the chard leaves and chickpeas. Mix together and bring to a boil, and cook for a few minutes until chard wilts. Add salt and lemon juice to taste.
Arrange meatballs in the stew, drizzle some of the liquid on them, cover and cook over low heat for 15 minutes.
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