Rice with Tomatoes, Chickpeas and Turnips

Even I go through phases where I don't eat enough vegetables, and recently I realized I haven't been eating enough whole grains. This morning I thought boy, what I need is some brown rice. Which is strange, because brown rice is one of those things I couldn't stand eating as a child (sorry, Mom!) and it also reminds me of all the bad vegetarian cooking I try to steer clear of. But ever since I discovered Spanish cooking, I have a new attitude...

This is sort of a combination of a couple recipes from Teresa Barrenechea's Cuisines of Spain - Soupy Rice with White Beans and Turnips, and Baked Rice with Tomatoes and Chickpeas. Looking at those two recipes, I thought - why not turnips and tomatoes? Turnips are one vegetable I still don't know quite what to do with, but I think this recipe is a winner. Los Poblanos is growing some wonderful, sweet, delicate-flavored Japanese turnips in their unheated greenhouses this time of year - maybe I'll try that next winter. I added chorizo, because I had some - I had a little time to kill in Santa Fe last week, so I spent it browsing at the Spanish Table. But this dish would still be great without it, especially if you use smoked paprika and caramelize the onions a bit.

1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 turnips, cut in 1/2 inch dice
2 small smoked Spanish chorizo (about 3 oz.)
2 bay leaves
1 bunch chard
1 can chickpeas (14 oz.)
1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz.)
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 tsp hot paprika
Pinch of saffron (optional)
1 1/2 cups brown rice

In a medium-large pot, heat the olive oil on medium flame. Add the onions, garlic, turnips, chorizo and bay leaves. Saute until the onions and turnips are soft and slightly browned. Slice the chard into thin ribbons, including the stems. Add it to the pot, and saute until it is wilted and the stems are tender. Soak the saffron in a little boiling water to bring out the flavor. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, stock, paprika and saffron water to the pot and bring to a boil. Taste the broth to see if it needs salt (this will depend on what kind of stock you used). Add the rice, cover the pot and simmer for 40 minutes or until the rice is tender.


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