Monday, 31 August 2015

Yes You Can!

Bietola, Ceci & Pomodorini
Swiss Chard, Chickpeas & Cherry Tomatoes

One pan, no fuss, and two servings of great food- healthy, satisfying and economical, as well as being plain delicious. Now, come on... There has got to be at least one thing in that list that you like the sound of, if not all of them!

To me, these are ALL great reasons to make this kind of meal, as well as the fact that they simply remind me of our down to earth dishes down South. To me, this kind of dish tastes of home... Only... I make it my way!
Normally, this kind of dish would be boiling away for at least twice as long as mine was and more often than not, the chickpeas would have been soaked overnight and the meal would have been planned ahead. Thankfully, for people like me, we can now easily get chickpeas in cans that are wonderful and ready to go... So that we can indulge in our spontaneous, spur of the moment yearnings for comfort food whenever we need them!

To make this simple but tasty dish I needed just 1 small head of Swiss chard ( there were basically only 3 thick storms here), 1 onion, 10 cherry tomatoes or so, fennel seeds, dried oregano, nutmeg, salt and pepper to season and of course some good olive oil... And around 45 minutes of cooking time.

It was a little too warm today, or I could have made this into a lovely soup by adding more liquid and the. Simply mashing a part of the chickpeas to thicken it up... But that's the good thing about these down to earth old fashioned dishes, you can always vary and alter them to suit your taste... And indeed you should!

I began by frying the stalks of the chard together with the onion, in plenty of olive oil. And with a pinch of salt and pepper. Garlic would also have been nice in this dish and this would have been the right time to add it... But I left it out this evening... You never know when somebody may try to steal a kiss! Haha!

After 4-5 minutes, I added the chickpeas along with the liquid from the can and added a good pinch of fennel seeds, dried oregano and a decent dusting of freshly grated nutmeg. On went the lid and down went the heat to a gentle simmer... And there it sat for the next 10 minutes or so whilst I chopped up the chard greens and halved the cherry tomatoes.

And then in they went, with a little sprinkle of salt, a quick stir and on went the lid again, along with a little goodbye as I went to pour myself a drink. Parting is such sweet sorrow... But it's not that bad when you know you will see each other again in around 20 minutes, lol!

By that time, everything is well cooked through and tender and delicious... And bursting with all of ththe good flavors that have cooked- in ... I much prefer this method to the traditional way in which the greens are boiled separately and then fried together with the other ingredients- just think of all the goodness you are pouring down the sink if you do that!

Serve with freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and enjoy the richness of this "poor people's food" and then you'll understand why we all love it so much. Word.

Buon Appetito!
My final word is that I have to say that I hate the categorization that happens with food nowadays. Back home, we didn't have vegetarian meals, vegan meals, or any kind of special named dishes, it was just called dinner and was all simply food, sometimes with meat or fish, sometimes without. I think back then there was a greater appreciation of food and cooking and the fact that we had something nourishing to eat and that is a mindset that has stayed with me to this day. And I like it.

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