Chick peas with chard


This is so easy you can do it standing on your head.  No, that’s not a good idea. Don’t stand on your head unless you are very flexible!

Sweat a large onion, two or three large carrots sliced or diced, a handful of chopped celery (no leaves – they’re bitter), a clove of garlic in olive oil and butter. Do it gently.  Then add a heaped teaspoon of hot smoked paprika, stir round, then add a tin or two of drained chickpeas (depending on how many you are feeding).  Combine the cooked vegetables and spice with the chickpeas, add black pepper but not salt (yet).  Then add two tins of chopped tomatoes and a  flat dessert spoon of soft brown sugar. Crazy. But it works.  Have you noticed that people like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Nigella, Ottolenghi all add a pinch of sugar to tomato based dishes?  There’s a reason for it and it’s all part of the alchemy.  Cooking isn’t just a matter of taste it’s also chemistry.  So use just a little sugar to counterbalance the acidity of the tomatoes.

Cook gently, uncovered for about 20 minutes then add some salt to taste (only now,because cooking legumes (like chickpeas) with salt makes the skins tough).  Then add the chopped stalks of white, ruby or rainbow chard and cover.  Lastly, add the chopped green leaves and stir.  Cover and cook again for two minutes. Check the seasoning again.  It should taste dense, rich and smoky. Ready?

Sometimes I add green beans toward the end. Sometimes I add sweet potato or squash at the beginning. Sometimes, if there are no vegetarians in the house, I sneak in some Chorizo. It depends on the mood, who is in the house and what is in the garden.  So if you sneak a look at the photo you might spot a bit of Chorizo or two. But just ignore it if you are a veggie.

At the end of cooking I leave the pan to stand for 5 minutes, having sprinkled some chopped dill leaf over the top.  Then I serve it in a bowl with flatbread.

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