I have a very short list of vegetarian appetizers because all the truly wonderful hand-food seems to involve bacon. Devils on Horseback anyone? Tapas, on the other hand, are meant to be scooped out of dish with a piece of bread and many of them involve legumes and sauce. Also, garlic, sea-salt and jalapenos with lots of great combinations to choose from. I made this chickpea and greens mixture for Sunday dinner with S. and K. – very nice, very spring.
1 15-ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
About 3 Tbs olive oil (the amount depends on how dry/tough your greens are)
About 1 pound of greens – freshly picked is best, boxed cooking greens next, or you can use spinach
1 C croutons or bagel chips
1/4 C tomato sauce
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 Tbs chopped jalepenos (optional, but traditional)
1 Tbs white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 C grated cheddar cheese – although smoked gouda is nice, too.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon juice, to taste
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the greens and the jalepenos and stir fry until the greens are just wilted, about 2 minutes and less than that if they’re right out of the garden. Add the cumin and garlic and stir for a minute until fragrant. Dump in the chickpeas, croutons or chips, tomato sauce, vinegar into the pan and allow to heat through. Add more olive oil if necessary and stir until well blended.
Transfer to a food processor, blender or mortar and pestle along with the vinegar, and mash to a coarse paste. It should be a good consistency to scoop out onto a piece of baguette – go ahead and try it out, like a responsible cook. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Spoon the mixture into an oven-proof dish and distribute the grated cheese on top. Just before serving, heat under the broiler until the cheese is bubbly. Sprinkle with smoked paprika (yum) and serve in the hot dish with slices of baguette or more bagel chips.