Autumn is treading very lightly on our little world here. It appears that this year’s leaf display will again be very muted. (My indicators are the sassafras: in a good year, these rhizomatous trees will go through the whole hot range of the spectrum. This year, they’ve slowly slipped into the rusty-plummy range.) The veg garden is still going nuts (the peppers, eggplants and tomatoes have all hit a second wind), and the recent rain has helped the long-neglected perennial beds.
Chard! I am the only person in the house who adores it. It sure is a sight to behold in the garden, though. Last night, I made a stew in which the chard was a key feature. Rich stews and hot bread are a seasonal favorite. (Thanks, Kelly, for the chard reminder.)
Chickpeas and Chard with cilantro and cumin
From Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Suppers
2T olive oil
1/2 t ground cumin or more to taste
1 large onion, finely minced
2 t tomato paste
sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
pinch of saffron threads
14 chard leaves and stems
2 garlic cloves
2 15-oz cans chickpeas or 3 cups home-cooked, with some cooking liquid
1 c cilantro leaves
1/4 c parsley leaves
1. Heat 1T+1t of olive oil in a wide skillet; add onion and saffron and cook over med. heat, stirring occasionally, 12-15 mins. Meanwhile, pound garlic and 1/2 t salt with the cilantro and parsley to make a rough paste. When the onions are golden and soft, add the paste to the pan along with the tomato paste and work it in with the onions.
2. Slice the chard leaves off their stems. Put them in a wide pot with 2 cups of water and cook, covered, until wilted and tender, about 5 minutes. Set the leaves aside and reserve the cooking water.
3. Chop the chard stems into dice and drop them into the reserved chard water. Simmer until tender, about 10 minutes, and turn off the heat.
4. Add the chickpeas to the onion with their liquid or 1 cup water or stock. Coarsely chop the chard and add it as well. Simmer for 10 minutes, then add the stems. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with the remaining oil drizzled over it all.