Friday, November 14, 2008

Dandelion Greens With Caramelized Onion and Chickpeas

There are over 3.3 million Muslim people living in Germany. In my region, one of the largest Islamic enclaves can be found in Bad Godesburg. Since moving here I have appreciated their presence in my community. Woman clocked in black burkas and men sitting in teashops smoking hookah pipes is now a regular part of my day. As a fringe benefit, there are a bunch of Halal stores very close to my house.

Halal means permissible in Arabic. Similar to Kosher, it is used to define what foods are acceptable for Muslims to eat under Islamic law. For me, the halal markets are great source for groceries that are not very common in regular German supermarkets, such as chickpeas and bulgur. Also, filling in the void where New York's Korean markets once stood, I find that Bad Godesburg's Halal shops have the most diverse vegetable selection to be found.

Yesterday's find: dandelion greens. One of the most intense bitter green, last night I paired them with caramelized onions and chickpeas. The sweetness of the onions and earthiness of the chickpeas along with a hearty pinch of sea salt and a few red pepper flakes turned out a side dish that I hope to make again and again.

1 small onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic
1 8 ounce can chickpeas
1 bunch dandelion greens (about 4 cup chopped greens)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup water

Cut peeled onion in half from root to tip. Then, also cutting from root to tip, thinly slice the onion. Preheat a large frying pan. When hot, add oil and onion and reduce heat to low. Allow the onion to cook, tossing occasionally, until they are golden brown, about 20 minutes. Mince garlic and add to the pan. Cook for another two to three minutes. Drain and rinse chickpeas and add to the pan. Turn heat up to high and cook for a few minutes then add greens. Toss greens with the chickpeas and onions and allow to cook for a few minutes until they have reduced in volume by about a quarter. Add red pepper flakes and season with salt and pepper. Add water and reduce heat to medium low. Cook until the greens have reduced to half their original volume, about five to ten minutes. Serve hot.

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