Sunday, November 13, 2011

Mediterranean Chickpea Chili for the Better Homes & Gardens Recipe Insiders Group


Recently, I received a surprise invitation from Better Homes and Gardens to be a part of their new BHG Recipe Insider program. Sweet! The deal is this: Twice a month they send me links to new recipes,  as well as old favorites, and I review anything that catches my eye. There's no obligation to give a positive review, and I have the option to put my own spin on any of the dishes - and regular readers will know that I love nothing more than fiddling with a recipe! Needless to say, I accepted the invitation.

Among the first batch of recipes I received, I was most drawn to this Mediterranean chickpea chili. At this time of year, there are so many (not necessarily unwelcome, mind you) opportunities to eat heavy, cheesy, creamy, calorie-loaded foods that I'm more than happy to take a break from all that and make something hearty and satisfying that still somehow manages to feel light.

Enter this "chili" - with my own twist, of course. While the original recipe called for dried basil and a garnish of lemon zest and feta, I subbed in fresh oregano and thyme,  kept the zest, and went with a crispy grilled haloumi cheese and spicy pickled Greek peppers for garnish. I also added some preserved lemon and saffron to the broth, threw in a shallot for good measure,  and partially pureed the soup for thickness. After one giant bowl of this stuff, I was completely satisfied, but didn't feel weighed down.  It was even better the next day for lunch.

Mediterranean Chick Pea Chili
adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
makes 4 -6 servings


Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large shallot, chopped fine
1 large white onion, small dice
1 dried hot chili, crumbled
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small preserved lemon, seeds removed, chopped
3 14 oz. cans chick peas, drained
4 cups chicken broth (or vegetable for a vegetarian version) 
1 large pinch saffron
1 heaping tablespoon fresh oregano, plus extra for garnish
leaves from 2-3 thyme sprigs, to taste
1/3 cup Kalamata olives, sliced
1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
zest from 1 lemon
pickled Greek peppers, sliced into rings (you could also use pepperoncini)
8 oz. haloumi cheese, sliced, grilled, and chopped into "croutons"
salt and pepper, to taste

In a stock pot, saute the shallot, onion, and pepper over medium heat  in the olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the lemon, chick peas, saffron, and chicken or vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes. With an immersion blender, very roughly puree the soup to achieve a thick texture. Add the oregano, thyme, and olives, simmering for another 10 minutes. During this time grill the haloumi slices and then chop them into small "croutons." Add the grape tomatoes and cook until slightly mushy. Salt and pepper to tate - but be careful with the salt, as the haloumi will add a salty component.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and top with the picked peppers, haloumi, and a dusting of the lemon zest. The nutty chickpeas and delicate saffron scented broth worked really well with the salty cheese and gentle heat from the peppers. A keeper! One note about the original version - while I think feta would add a great flavor to this dish,  I enjoyed the crispy crunch of the fried haloumi so much that it makes me wonder if the feta wouldn't provide enough textural contrast. Only one way to find out - I'll just have to make it again and see!






34 comments:

  1. What a cool program to be invited to! I love BH&G. "The red checkered book" was always my mom's go-to cookbook. I look forward to seeing what catches your eye!

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  2. Love this chili!! Love the flavors....

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  3. What a beautiful bowl of soup! Congrats on this latest endeavor!!!

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  4. doesn't this look fantastic, and best of all i can tell you now! thanks for letting us all play with you~

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  5. How very fun - congrats on the opportunity to mess around.

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  6. Congrats on the invitation! This chili does look amazing. It is packed with fresh veggies which makes it a hearty and healthy winner. Great post!

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  7. It will be fun to see how you jazz up the BHG recipes, Trix. Your version of this chickpea soup is going onto my "try soon" list.

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  8. Wow what a great opportunity. I'd jump at that chance as well, great exposure. I love this Mediterranean version of chili and it looks so pretty!

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  9. Love the idea of this med chili with the lemons, saffron, olives and the rest of the ingredients! Next time I am trying to use up leftovers, I will think of making this chili!

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  10. this is awesome. I love new additions to chili and since we heart our chickpeas in this house this is a perfect sub for those meatless nights! Great blog- so glad you stopped by mine the other day so I could find yours. I am following you now!

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  11. This is a diffinite WOW factor photo love everything in that bowl!

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  12. This is a gorgeous gorgeous dish! I love the Mediterranean flair of preserved lemons and Kalamata olives, and I think your adaptation of haloumi cheese is brilliant.

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  13. I like going light too esp with the year celebrations and parties where there's so much of heavy food.


    I too use chick pea though its not like the one you prepared.

    Lovely vegetarian recipe with such beautiful outcome.

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  14. first time here....I absolutely loved your space....i too have a space only on fish recipes...do visit it sometimes n let me know ur valuable comments !

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  15. There really is so much going on here to eat and love. The subs you made really float my boat. I think I will have to make this for my space too.

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  16. This is really a beautiful soup. I'm immediately drawn to every ingredient and can't wait to make it. And the photos are really great.

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  17. Your version sounds so hearty, warm, and delicious! I like the grilled haloumi cheese croutons :)

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  18. The chili looks beautiful and it sounds, based on a read of the recipe, to be delicious. That's a hard combination to beat. This is my first visit to your blog, So on the strength of this recipe decided to browse through some of your earlier posts. I'm so glad I did that. I really like the food and recipes you share with your readers and I'll definitely be back. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

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  19. I love the way you "mess" with recipes -- and in this case, the preserved lemon was an inspired choice. Looks very noshable, indeed! Theresa

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  20. Trix, I love your addition of haloumi "croutons" to this recipe. So creative! We're so glad to have you as a member of our Recipe Insiders group. Can't wait to see what you try next.
    -Catie Bielecki
    BHG.com, Assistant Food Editor

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  21. Congrats on your new cooperation! This sounds like a great recipe. But I really love how you Trixified-it , hehe. The grilled haloumi has me drooling the most. Plus it's great to eat satisfying meals without that heavy winter food feel. BTW that first shot is gorgeous! It belongs in a magazine.

    P.S. I love that you loved the video and that we are learning how much we have in common:)

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  22. I definitely like the sound of this chili...I zeroed right in on that haloumi and wanted to dive in! Although, I'm sure I wouldn't turn it away if it had feta on top, either ;)

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  23. Congrats on the invite, how fun and exciting. This chili looks very hearty and satisfying. The grilled cheese on top is like the icing on the cake.

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  24. oh what a fun program to be a part of! congrats!

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  25. This looks MORE than delicious! I love how it's such a different take on your typical chili, and the addition of saffron sounds lovely! Thanks for sharing :)

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  26. Congrats on the invite. And what a fun twist on the usual chili we see, looks also like a hearty italian soup.

    Guess what?????? The mushrooms just arrived 20min ago! WOOHOO! Thank you so much and no not bad blogger, bad shipping systems ;-)

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  27. I never thought I'd say this about chili, but that is one breathtaking looking bowl of goodness! I love that it contains saffron and haloumi is one of my favorite Greek cheeses too.

    You see, your penchant for recipe-fiddling DOES land you all the plum deals!

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  28. Fabulous bowl of soup and what a cool opportunity with BHG. Cheers!

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  29. Sounds like a fab project and this recipe is right up my street. The addition of cheese is a work of pure genius and I can never say no to a hearty chickpea dinner. Slurp.

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  30. Hearty, but not fattening... I'll take it! And, as usual, I love your photo!

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  31. BH&G was my first cookbook purchase and I still use it today. This chili looks so tasty and comforting!

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  32. I'm a big chick pea fan. I love this better-for-you version of chili. It's a nice change from the norm. It looks so flavorful!

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