Fall Colors

This was better than it had any right to be. Like many dishes I make, it evolved from a hastily scribbled note that looked more like a math problem than a recipe, an attempt to do something different with familiar ingredients.


I’m crazy for the deep green wrinkly variety of kale that goes by various names (Dinosaur, Tuscan, Lacinato). Whatever you call it, it’s darned tasty, and something I buy in quantity this time of year, but I tend to do the same old saute with it, or toss it into a soup.

raw and cooked

I’m also a huge fan of chickpeas; my husband, not so much. He’ll eat them if they’re in a dish (or eat around them), but he was never really a fan – until now.

We’re both learning to love sweet potatoes. They’re just so good for you, but in most preparations they’re just *too* sweet for our tastes. Here, I decided to cube them and saute them in olive oil with a chopped shallot until they got nicely browned on the edges. Then my drained, cooked chickpeas went in, along with a huge clove of garlic, sliced, and once that was fragrant and golden, the chopped kale went on top. I tossed it through until it was bright green and wilted, then spooned the veggies into our bowls, topping each serving with (of course) a poached egg.

Dinner:  October 20, 2008

I didn’t have great expectations for this, but honestly? We loved it. The chickpeas were the unexpected star, rich and meaty tasting, with a wonderful texture far superior to canned. A little harissa added at the table took it over the top. This was a lovely and really satisfying fall meal, a great combination of colors and textures, and a surprising success.

26 thoughts on “Fall Colors

  1. Camille says:

    Again, I am inspired!! I love sweet potatoes, chickpeas AND kale, but like you, have used kale only in soups/stews or braised it. I have everything in my pantry/fridge, so you’ve just decided for me what my dinner will be tonight. You mentioned (& the pictures show) that you used dried chickpeas vs. canned. I’ve only ever used the dried when I’ve made soups & therefore have been able to soak them overnight. How long did you soak yours? I have a fabulous Tunisian Chickpea Soup recipe that you may enjoy. How do I get it to you? Thanks!!

  2. Natalie says:

    I didn’t know what I was going to do with another bunch of kale from my CSA, and now I have my answer! Looks amazing! Thank you.

  3. mmm this looks like a great vegetarian dinner for winter when it’s all kale every week and i need to find new ways to cook it.

  4. maris says:

    I love it when last minute ideas turn into the best meals!
    This looks like it tasted just as good as it photographed.

  5. Carishma says:

    This looks absolutely delicious – must make some harissa. I’ve stopped buying canned chickpeas and beans for a while now. I use a pressure cooker, so that helps speed things up a lot, but I agree, so much tastier than canned.

    By the way, I learnt how to poach eggs following instructions on your blog, and it works!

  6. Marcos Castrillon says:

    That looks, as always, smashing.
    Chickpeas are one of those things I used to hate when I was a wee angry Spaniard, probably because most of Spanish preparations call for fairly heavy stuff like Cocido Castellano or the almighty Callos; but now I’m quite fond of them.

  7. Jen,
    As usual, all looks terrific. I am roasting sweet potato wedges tonight with my chicken. I love them, as long as they have no marshmallows on top, thank you!

    Your new name (which is well earned) is “Miss Poached Egg”.
    You are the only one I know who always poaches eggs so perfectly.
    Mine always come out BAD!

  8. penguin18 says:

    This looks spectacular. I have only commented one other time but have been faithfully reading over a year now.

    I wanted to say that, because of you, I make things like this now. I use all kinds of healthful veggies, legumes, grains, etc. in creative ways. It is also largely attributable to you that I eat only free range, ethically raised meats and organic produce these days. You are an inspiration.

  9. Julia F. says:

    Such beautiful food… I’ve been lurking for a while and I really look forward to reading your blog. Thank you for such a lovely evocation of local food!

    If you love that dark wrinkled kale, have you tried roasting it? Cut it into large bite-size pieces, toss it with a bit of olive oil, and put it in a shallow layer in a baking pan. Bake at about 400 for…maybe 12 minutes, until crisp. Then sprinkle with salt. It becomes crunchy and tasty and addictive. Nobody can eat just one…!

  10. this looks like a wonderful dish! although i admit i’m a sucker for anything with an egg on top! but i bet the sweetness of the potato combined well with the starchiness of the chickpeas, and well that kale is good no matter what it’s with!

  11. what a crazy combination of stuff! chickpeas are like the 5th food group in our house, but i’ve been running out of ideas. if i get kale at the CSA tonight i will totally make this!

  12. Sara says:

    Okay, I just made a version of this with what I hand and it was good.
    I roasted my cubed sweet potatoes with olive oil and whole roasted garlic. I added that to canned chick peas, put a soft-boiled egg on top and grated some romano on top. I know, it’s a weak version of yours but it tastes amazing! I wanted to poach my egg but there was only 1 egg left in the fridge and I was too afraid of ruining it.

  13. It’s good to know that I’m not alone when it comes to writing articles about quality, good food. And I love sharing good recipes too. But the one pictured about is a must try since the ingredients are not that hard to obtain.
    I’d better check the archived posts from your site. Ciao!

  14. Sara H says:

    I was wondering what I was going to do with all those sweet potatoes and the kale from my CSA – I can’t wait to make this over the weekend. Just need to get some dried pepper from Penzey’s so I can make the harissa! THANKS!

  15. So, dinosaur kale… is that the same as cavalo nero? Long, very dark, spear blade-shaped leaves?

    Hugh F-W did a three-kale (Russian, cavalo nero and crinkly) risotto-style dish using soaked pearled spelt instead of rice, and a hard goat’s cheese instead of parmesan on his latest River Cottage series. Looked lovely.

  16. Neera says:

    I tried a modified version of this last night (sans chickpeas and egg) as a side to chicken. Loved it so much that I tried it tonight with acorn squash instead of sweet potato – awesome! I really need to try harissa with it… I used some chili sauce I got on a farm back home, but it wasn’t spicy. What kind of harissa are you into??

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