Chickpea Tapas

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.

Chickpea tapas

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.

Devils on Horseback

“Angels on Horseback” are oysters wrapped in bacon and broiled. It only seems natural that someone who loved that concept, but not oysters, would create “Devils on Horseback” which have prunes standing in for the mollusks. These are absolutely delicious.

Purchase “sandwich picks” to make these beauties. They are heftier than toothpicks and stand up to prolonged baking, although they may brown a little bit. Soak them in a cup of water for at least two hours before using.

Take a pound of thin sliced center cut bacon and cut the strips in half – I find that a pair of very sharp kitchen shears works best. Wrap each prune in one half strip and pin together with a pick. This is one time when regular, grocery store prunes will work better than the sundried natural variety because they’re softer and more malleable. Lay them out on a cookie sheet covered with oiled foil or your trusty Silpat and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes, turning once. The bacon should be cooked through and the prunes soft.

Devils are VERY hot right out of the oven – don’t just pop one in your mouth. These are good appetizers if you have to travel. Scooped off the cookie sheet hot from the oven and transferred to a heavy serving bowl and covered with foil, they’ll stay hot for quite a distance. Then maybe, someday, you’ll be inspired to try the Angels.