As it is British Food Fortnight and harvest time it’s worth celebrating our simple and lovely veg.
This recipe is a easy weekday supper. It is midway between a salad, a soup, a side, and a casserole and can be served as any of these (or all four).
There is, admittedly a bit of chopping so it rewards you to make more than you need to give you an easy time in a couple of nights. It is a delicious way of eating all the seasonal abundance of harvest. These are the vegetables that people grow in their garden and you only need a little of each to make the most delicious supper.
This isn’t really a recipe, more of a suggestion really. If you don’t have any tomatoes in your garden then you could just use half a can of tomatoes. Chard can be substituted by spinach. You can use white wine or stock or just water. Add some leeks if you have some. Leave out the celery if it’s a bother, but if you do use it please ensure it’s chopped really finely – stringy celery is horrible. When I have time I cook my own chickpeas but I always have a couple of cans in the cupboard for when I can’t be bothered.
My children like this as a pasta sauce, but I serve mine as a casserole. I dip in flatbreads, with a little tzakiki or hummus on the side, depending on what I have in the fridge.
It is worth making double, or even triple the amount as it’s so versatile, and it gets more flavourful over a couple of days in the fridge. I serve mine a couple of days later as a side, drizzled with olive oil. I have also added cumin, garam masala and some tumeric and coconut milk (and the other half of that can of tomatoes) to make an easy vegetable curry. Get creative!
A couple of glugs of olive oil or rapeseed oil
Two very large handfuls of spinach or chard (stems removed), washed and chopped into ribbons
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 stick celery, strings removed and very finely chopped
A courgette, cut into thin ribbons or batons
A handful of green beans, halved lengthwise
Two handfuls of yellow orange or red tomatoes, any size, cherry is fine, halved
Pinch paprika or chilli flakes
400g cooked chickpeas
1 cup of water, stock or leftover white wine (or a can of tomatoes)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
basil leaves, torn to garnish
In a large frying pan or saucepan add the olive oil over a medium heat. When the oil is warm add the garlic, and stir for a couple of minutes. Then add the chard (or spinach) celery, courgette, beans (it’s worth charring the beans and the courgettes for extra flavour if you can be bothered). Saute and stir for a couple of minutes then add the halved tomatoes and whatever spice you choose to use and the cooked chickpeas.
When the tomatoes have got a little soft add the water, wine or stock (or tomatoes) and turn up the heat. Simmer until the tomatoes or chard is softened. Season to taste. Chuck loads of torn basil on top. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive to finish.