Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Chicken, Kale and Chickpea Stew
The Chelyuskin is sinking in the Arctic icy waters. Horns are blaring. The ship is being evacuated onto the ice. The "Soviet Titanic" has less than two hours afloat. Will 110 people make it safely on to the ice in time? And once there - how they will survive the frigid air temperatures of -43 degrees C? And even if a rescue can happen - no ship can get through the ice floes in the water and there is no landing strip on the ice.
It's boring. How can I take a remarkable tale of survival on the ice - a tale that includes women and children and two babies and make it so boring? Eight months into the play and I am in danger of giving a major sleeping pill to future audiences. (Or having no future audiences because nobody will produce it... because it's - dull and tedious. And did I mention - boring?)
Dinner seems to be my only "real" moment of the day. But the "cold from hell" hangs on. Yesterday, I gave careful consideration to placing a gallon of ice cream in the middle of the dining room table and telling all to "dig in. That's your dinner."
"Devon's coming for dinner."
Uh oh. The boyfriend will be here. Maybe ice cream for dinner isn't a good idea. I relented. I caved in to society's expectation of "the good mother" and put a proper dinner on the table. This chicken-chickpea stew fulfilled my requirements - it's all about ease - I inadvertently picked a healthy dish and it satisfied all. Nary a drop left. And there was still room for ice cream.
It's a one-dish meal from Tuscany. I found it in Joe Famularo's wonderful A Cooks Tour of Italy. I have been using Famularo's recipes for years. His stories surrounding his food finds make everything personable and accessible. I've done a lot of armchair traveling with him. Sometimes I open up one of his books when I get itchy feet and want a quick vacation in Italy.
My version is just a wee bit easier that Mr. Famularo's - because I'm sick and really just want ice cream! Instead of 1/2 tsp cumin, dried oregano, dried thyme and crushed red pepper - I added some Italian seasoning and called it a day. I also left out the 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar because I didn't see it on the ingredient list. Ever miss an ingredient?
Feel free to add these ingredients in when you combine all - or just use my simplified version. Either way - it's a winner. Especially if you start thinking vanilla ice cream with salty dark chocolate topping is a good idea for dinner.
Chickpea, Kale and Chicken Stew - serves 4
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion - diced
1 green bell pepper - diced
2 cloves garlic - minced
1/2 bunch of kale
1 pound chicken breasts - cut into 1/2 inch chunks
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cans chickpeas, drained (you can oh so authentic and use dried beans and soak and cook -I used 1 can chickpeas and 1 can of garbanzo beans - I do use low-salt organic)
2 cups chicken broth (I used 3)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
In a heavy sauce pan, heat the olive oil and saute onion and pepper until softened (about 8 minutes). Add garlic, saute briefly.
Stir in kale and chicken. Add broth, beans, tomatoes and seasonings. Partially cover and simmer for 30 minutes - stirring occasionally.
Leave out the chicken, use vegetable broth and make it a vegetarian - even vegan meal. Don't be fooled by the down-home, "hot dish" nature of this meal. The colors and varying textures really do this dish proud. Want a touch of elegance? Think of it as a bruschetta topping and spoon it over some crostini with melted cheese.
Newly fortified, I return to the manuscript. I delete all the boring parts. Which is 80% of the play. And go to bed. This morning, I am exploring a new idea. But first breakfast.
Anyone want to join me for a bowl of ice cream?