Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Vindication of Sloth

Last year I was lazy about harvesting the arugula in our garden, and it bolted. I thought, eh, I wonder what will happen if I just leave it there? So I did, it went to seed, and some months later, voila--

We haven't even planted this year's garden yet, but we are already enjoying our first harvest. I feel like I've really pulled off something sneaky here.

Here is one of the dishes I've made with the crop: chick peas stewed with roasted peppers and smoked paprika, topped with poached eggs and a pile of lightly dressed arugula. It is exactly as good as you'd imagine something that involves not just smoked paprika, not just poached eggs, but both, to be.

Chickpeas with Smoked Paprika, Poached Eggs, and Arugula

Olive oil
2 large cloves garlic
1 large shallot
1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained
1 roasted red pepper (I keep jarred red peppers from Trader Joe's on hand, and use about half of what's in a jar)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika, or to taste

3 or 4 good handfuls of arugula
Olive oil
A light-tasting vinegar (this would be the place for sherry vinegar if you have some)
Black pepper

4 eggs
2 Tbs white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

Heat some olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Peel the garlic and put it through a garlic press into the pan. Peel and mince the shallot, and add to the pan. Saute for a minute or two, until the shallot becomes translucent. Add the chickpeas and toss to coat with the olive oil and garlic. You may need to add a bit of water to the pan to keep the chickpeas from sticking.

Dice the red pepper and add it to the skillet. Add the smoked paprika and salt to taste, and fold everything together. Simmer the chick peas on low heat, covered, while you make the rest of the dish.

Wash and dry the arugula. In a small bowl, make a simple dressing of olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper.

For the poached eggs, fill a large, shallow skillet almost full of water. Add 1/2 tsp salt and the white vinegar (the latter lowers the pH of the water and helps the egg whites hold together a little better). Cover the skillet and turn the heat on high to bring the water to a boil. Crack each of the eggs into a separate small bowl or ramekin.

When the water for the eggs starts boiling, quickly slip the eggs from the bowls into the boiling water, immediately cover the pan, and remove from the heat. The residual heat from the water will cook the eggs. After 3 minutes, use a pancake turner or slotted spoon to remove the eggs from the water.

While the eggs are cooking, place the arugula in a large bowl, pour the dressing over, and toss it all together.

To serve, place a couple spoonfuls of chickpeas on a plate, top with 2 poached eggs, and then the arugula.

Serves 2, with some chickpeas left over.

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