During late winter and early spring, I have trouble figuring out what to eat. The asparagus and early peas that will be everywhere come April aren’t quite here yet, but the thick stews and risottos of winter are becoming less exciting every day.
One of my favorite recipes to get myself out of the “shoulder season” funk is curried chickpeas with roasted beets and feta.
I can hear about half of you saying it out loud: “But I don’t like beets.” You’ve probably had the pickled kind, boiled in a vat of who-knows-what, canned and perched on top of an insipid salad. Don’t worry, those poor, tortured little beets are nothing like these nice roasted ones.
Combined with hot, crunchy chickpeas baked in curry powder, and salty, creamy feta, a side of these beets is perfect for a rainy late winter evening. Served at room temperature, though, they’ll also work as a heavy salad for a sunny early spring dinner. Either way, the combination of salty and sweet, creamy and crunchy will leave you happy about digging into every bowlful.
There is only one caveat: If you’re making this dish to be served later, it’s best to mix the beets and chickpeas just before serving. It won’t change the flavor, but if you mix it ahead of time the beets will dye the chickpeas and cheese — and everything else they touch — bright magenta.
Curried Chickpeas with Roasted Beets and Feta
About 1 pound beets
2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 4-ounce package feta cheese
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the skins from the beets and chop them into about 1/2-inch chunks. Layer on a rimmed baking sheet or dish, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.
Spread the chickpeas in a separate baking dish. Drizzle them with the remaining olive oil and the curry powder, using your clean hands to get the chickpeas well coated.
Put both baking sheets into the oven and cook until the beets can be easily pierced with a fork, stirring every 15 minutes or so to ensure even baking. I normally roast my beets and chickpeas for about 45 minutes.
When you’re ready to eat, pour the beets and chickpeas into a large serving bowl. Break up the feta and add it to the bowl, too. Then, gently stir to combine the three ingredients. With the salty feta, I generally don’t even take time to season this before I tuck in!
— Meryl Carver-Allmond lives in Lawrence and writes about chickens, babies, knitting, gardening, food, photography and whatever else tickles her fancy on any given day at |www.mybitofearth.net.