Going vegan tastes so good when you turn up the heat on garbanzo beans and create a beautifully charred vegetable salad.
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Carbon steel pans and their close cousins, cast iron pans, love heat. Turn a burner on high, place the carbon steel pan on the fire, and you’ve pushed the pedal to the metal. Used by chefs to create crispy skin fish filets and perfectly seared steaks, carbon steel pans can also be used to give vegetables a beautiful, carbonized crust that deepens their flavor.
Hot, fast and easy
Everything is faster with a carbon steel pan. Cooking is quick. And so is cleanup.
Unlike stainless steel pans that must be scrubbed clean after each use, once cured, a carbon steel pan needs only a gentle washing to remove leftover oils. After that, it can be dried on a high flame.
If you have not used a carbon steel pan, think of it as a wok cut down to frying pan size. What carbon steel pans bring to the party is the ability to create rich caramelization quickly. In a matter of minutes, the high heat chars the garbanzo beans and vegetables with a small amount of oil.
Because the temperature of a carbon steel pan can reach as high as 700 F, a blend of oils works best. Eighty percent canola manages the heat with less smoke, and 20% olive oil adds flavor.
Flash cooking adds flavor and seals in the healthy qualities of fiber-rich garbanzo beans, a good source of protein and essential minerals such as manganese and folate or B-9. Also called chickpeas, the legumes provide a starchy contrast to the vegetables.
To make a delicious salad, toss the charred garbanzo beans and vegetables with olive oil and reduced balsamic vinegar together with finely chopped Italian parsley or fresh leafy greens like arugula, green leaf lettuce, romaine or frisee.
Mise en place, tongs and a good over-stove exhaust fan
What restaurant chefs call mise en place is all-important when cooking with high heat. Because the dish will cook in a matter of minutes, all the ingredients must be prepped ahead of time. Peel, chop and arrange all the ingredients on the cutting board before you fire up the carbon steel pan.
Remember, the pan can get as hot as 700 F, so have a good pair of 12-inch tongs at the ready. Turn on the exhaust fan so any smoke from the pan will be pulled out of the kitchen.
Charred Vegetable Salad With Garbanzo Beans
Use any fresh vegetables you enjoy. Besides broccoli, carrots and onions, Swiss chard, kale, spinach, turnips, Chinese bok choy and celery are also delicious when charred.
All the vegetables must be cut into small pieces so they will cook evenly. Leafy greens can be shredded. Calculate the order in which you add the vegetables based on how long they take to cook. For example, broccoli, carrots and turnips take more time to cook than does spinach.
Because carbon steel pans are relatively nonstick, less oil is required when cooking. The recipe calls for a minimum amount of blended oil. Use more depending on taste.
Reducing balsamic vinegar creates a thicker sauce and adds sweetness, offsetting the acid.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup blended oil, 80% canola oil, 20% extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, washed; skin, root and top removed; thin sliced
1 15-ounce can cooked garbanzo beans, organic if available, drained
2 cups shiitake, portabello or other brown mushrooms, dirt cleaned off, stems trimmed on the end, thin sliced
2 cups broccoli crowns, washed, each floret cut in half lengthwise
1 large carrot, washed, stem and root ends trimmed, peeled, finely diced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 large bunches Italian parsley, washed, stems removed, leaves finely chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1. In a small saucepan over a low flame, reduce the balsamic vinegar to one quarter the original volume. Set aside to cool.
2. Arrange all the prepped vegetables on a cutting board or in bowls for easy use.
3. Place a 10-, 12- or 14-inch carbon steel pan or cast iron pan on a high flame. When the pan begins to smoke, turn on the over-the-stove exhaust fan.
4. Drizzle a teaspoon of blended oil on the hot pan and immediately add the thin-sliced onions. Using tongs, toss the onions in the hot oil, turning frequently to avoid burning. When the onions are lightly browned, add drained garbanzo beans. Mix together. Add another drizzle of blended oil. Using tongs, toss frequently to avoid burning.
5. Add mushrooms. Stir and mix well until lightly browned.
6. Add broccoli crowns. Stir and mix well until lightly browned.
7. Add finely diced carrots. Mix well and drizzle with blended oil. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
8. Taste a broccoli crown and carrot dice. When they are al dente, with a little crispness, remove from the flame.
9. Transfer to a bowl or large plate to cool.
10. Place the finely chopped Italian parsley into a large salad bowl. Add the room-temperature charred garbanzo beans and vegetables. Toss well. Season the salad with extra virgin olive oil, reduced balsamic vinegar, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Adjust seasoning and serve.
Main photo: Charred garbanzo beans, shiitake mushrooms and onions in a carbon steel pan. Credit: Copyright 2016 David Latt