Wednesday, June 2, 2010

gruel patties

I was going to call this next recipe Herbed Chickpea Patties With Baby Lettuces, or perhaps Italian Garbanzo Burgers With Arugula Salad. But let's be honest: This blog is called Gruel for Dinner, and this dish is called Gruel Patties.

I like to make a batch of Gruel Patties on Sunday night before a busy week, and then eat them for lunch and dinner over the coming days. I would never, ever serve them to guests. The yachtsman won't touch them. But to me they're an old standby, a weeknight classic, a spring comfort food (I like to serve them over the tender arugula or baby lettuces or clovery mesclun that's in season now). They're easy, they reheat quite well, and I'm not exaggerating when I say I think they're quite good.

What they are not is glamorous. But according to the recipe I worked from, they're Italian, and nothing Italian is entirely unglamorous, is it?

Let's put it this way; they're about as glamorous as a can of chickpeas.

(I know there is a case to be made for cooking your own chickpeas, but Goya chickpeas are nearly as good as the ones you'll spend hours soaking and boiling and blah blah blahing, and they take about twelve hours less time to prepare.)

So, you start with a couple cans of chickpeas; you add some of that most versatile of herbs, (Italian!) parsley (if you have other fresh herbs around, feel free to add some of those, too); there's garlic, naturally; a little cumin; some hot red pepper flakes. Give it all a whirl in the food processor, and then turn it out into a bowl. Add a little Parm, an egg and some flour for binding, form the patties, and sauté them in a film of olive oil. Nod when your husband asks, "Is that really what you're eating for dinner?" And then eat them for dinner all week.

A few notes:

* Like I said, I serve them warm over greens dressed with something acidic, usually either lemon and olive oil and salt, or that red wine vinaigrette I told you about a while ago. I eat them two at a time, and when I reheat them, I do so in a toaster oven. I’m sure they’d be fine reheated in a microwave, too, though perhaps not as crispy. They’re not that great cold; plus, I love the way the warm patty softens the greens.

* The original version of this recipe was vegan—no egg, no cheese. The cheese is not essential, but I found that the patties crumbled when I tried cooking them without the egg.

Gruel Patties
Adapted from A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen by Jack Bishop

2 15-ounce cans of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
½ cup packed fresh parsley leaves
2 medium garlic cloves
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 egg
¼ cup flour
¼ cup Parmesan cheese
3 tablespoons evoo
A cup or two of greens (per serving)

1. Place the chickpeas, parsely, garlic, cumin, and pepper flakes in the bowl of the food processor. Process, stopping to scrape down the sides, until relatively uniform and smooth.

Move the mixture to a bowl and stir in the egg, then the flour, and finally the Parmesan and salt to taste. Shape the mixture into patties (I usually get eight or nine).

2. Heat 1½ tablespoons of oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the patties and cook until golden brown. Carefully turn the patties and drizzle the remaining oil around the edges of the pan. Continue cooking until the patties are golden brown on the second side.

3. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, place some greens in a bowl and toss with either dressing or equal parts lemon and olive oil and a sprinkling of salt.

4. Once the patties are cooked, let them sit briefly on paper towels to absorb some of the cooking oil,

then serve immediately on a bed of dressed greens.

Bon appétit, bitches! Or, as they say in Italian, bueno appetito, biatchos!


  1. --I think it's "biatchas".
    --Perhaps the yachtboy would prefer dining by himself at Daily Planet every night instead. --What happened to little miss I'm not posting recipes anymore? From my tiny kitchenless hotel room she seemed nice.
    -- one more lagunitas censored rich copper ale, please.

  2. Jesus, these take gruel to a whole new level.

  3. That's some high-falutin' beer you're drinking, biatcho. Sorry I let you down with the recipe.

    LL, you have no idea. But seriously, if I'd called the recipe by a different name, you would have no idea.

    I like how you think, DED. TOASTER GRUEL. Yessssss.