Italians combine all kinds of beans with all kinds of greens and cook them very simply. This is my variation on that theme. You can make it fairly dry, in which case it makes a good side dish, or leave it fairly brothy.
I like red chard in this dish, but you can use regular green if that’s what you find in the market. You can make this several hours ahead and let it sit. In fact, it gets better. The smokiness of the bacon has a chance to permeate the buttery chickpeas, and the chard, with a slightly bitter edge, holds its own against both. This is another place where I’d pull canned beans off the shelf in a pinch.
- 1 pound dried chickpeas
- One 6- to 8-ounce piece of slab bacon or 1 smoked ham hock
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 large bunch Swiss chard
- ½ cup Sofrito
- 2 tomatoes, cored and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup (or as needed) Chicken Broth, homemade or canned
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- Fine sea or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
1. Soak the chickpeas in plenty of cold water to cover for at least 8 hours or overnight.
2. Drain the chickpeas and then put them, the bacon, and the bay leaves in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover them by 2 inches. Bring the water to a boil and then adjust the heat so it is boiling gently. Cook the chickpeas until near tender, about 2½ hours. Keep an eye on them; they should always be covered by liquid. When the liquid meets the level of the chickpeas, add cold water to cover by 1 inch or so.
3. While the chickpeas are cooking, clean the chard: Fill a clean sink with cool water. Trim any wilted or yellow leaves and remove and discard the stems. Cut the leaves into 1-inch pieces. Swish them around in the water and then drain them in a colander.
4. When the chickpeas are tender, remove the slab of bacon and let it cool. Cut it into about ½ inch pieces. Put the bacon in a deep medium skillet over medium-high heat until it starts to sizzle and brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in the sofrito and cook until the water has evaporated and the sofrito starts to sizzle. Add the tomatoes and stir until softened. Stir in the chard leaves and stir until wilted, then stir in the chickpeas. Pour in the broth, add the thyme, and bring to a gentle boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 15 minutes to give the flavors a chance to blend.
5. Uncover the pan and check out the liquid. If you want to serve the beans and chard soupy, leave it as is. If you want to serve it a little drier, boil it until as much of the liquid as you like has evaporated. You can adjust the soupiness at the very end of cooking by adding additional broth.
Nutritional information includes 1/8 teaspoon of added salt per serving, and using 6 oz of slab bacon.