Thursday, April 30, 2009
A Mouthful of Spring / Une bouchée de Printemps
Though she seems to be all about cooking and stirring and baking, there were days where cooking was the last thing she wanted to do. Days where she couldn't stand spending more than an hour in front of the hungry stove, the piling dishes and the scratched cutting board. yes, there were days where she believed a sublime meal could come from a can of creamy pinto beans, some spices, a roasted red pepper and fresh, hearty Tuscan kale.
On those days, she enjoyed watching the blooming trees and flowers. Seeing the backyard flourishing, last year basil raising its tiny leaves from the dirt again and the hairy chives waving goodbye whenever the wind blows at the window.
She saw life nestled in a tree.
She saw life in the eyes of a little fairy.
She felt good walking barefoot in her house, on the grass, on the dirt, on the concrete. She smiled at the sight of her daughter throwing her little shoes and baring her naked feet to the warm sun while counting the bees.
She wore skirts and sandals. She curled her hair and opened wide her windows. She took a nap while a familiar breeze lifted the curtains to the ceiling tickling her toes and bringing back sweet memories.
She gave her family a helping hand when needed, a glass of tea when thirsty, a slice of tart when hungry. They all sat outside watching the sunset. Silent, they listened to the birds going to bed, the squirrels running up and down the trees. And the breeze. Always this familiar, sweet breeze.
On those days, near the river, the grass, the dirt, the blooming trees, she saw life. And it was beautiful.
I didn't have plans to make this dish, even less to post about it. I mean look at it! It doesn't look like from where you are: beans, herbs and bits of roasted pepper here and there. But the truth is, it has all what I was looking for on that warm spring day. In fact, I wish I had a can of pinto beans in my pantry right now so I can make it again today (note to self: buy pinto beans asap).
The dish is called Tbikha. In North Africa, especially in Algeria and Tunisia, Tbikha refers to a dish made with a combination of fresh and dry vegetables. Herbs are often added to the dish, as well as some heat like harissa or hot peppers. Peppers, squashes, carrots, turnips, cardoons and spinach are most often used, along with chickpeas and dried beans. The herbs are what makes this tbikha fresh, moist and bright. The creaminess of pinto beans, along with the delicate, slightly sweetness of kale and smokiness of roasted red peppers make it the perfect pair to a crusty bread. And may be some harissa coated olives…and why not some extra ground cumin to sprinkle liberally. Really, have a mouthful of spring this weekend. You will love it!
Tbikha Kale with Pinto beans and Roasted Red peppers
Recipe: Serves 4
- Two bunches of Tuscan Kale (or curly kale)
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 can pinto beans, drained
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 5 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (or whole depending on your taste)
- 1 cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp cumin, freshly ground
- 1/2 tsp sweet paprika
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 red pepper, roasted, peeled and finely diced
- The juice of 1/2 lemon
Wash the kale and remove the stems. Chop roughly and set aside.
Pour the olive oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, cover and cook until translucent but not browned, stirring frequently. Add garlic, jalapeno pepper, cumin, paprika and herbs and cook for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the chopped kale, cover and cook until wilted and the leaves turn bright green. Season with salt and pepper. Add the beans, drained, and the roasted red pepper. Stir, cover and let cook for another 10 minutes for the flavors to infuse.
Serve in a plate drizzled with some good olive oil, the lemon juice and sprinkle with chopped coriander and green onion.
B'ssahatkoum (To your health!)
Tbikha le chou frisé aux haricot blancs et poivron rouge
In Français please: Pour 4 personne
- 2 bouquets de chou frisé (ou épinard ou blettes)
- 3 c.s d'huile d'olive
- 1 oignon moyen, finement haché
- 5 oignons verts, hachés
- 3 gousses d'ail, finement émincées
- 1/2 piment vert, finement haché
- 1 boite de haricots blancs, égouttés
- 200ml de persil haché
- 200ml de coriandre hachée
- 1 c.c de cumin, fraichement moulu
- 1/2 c.c de paprika
- Sel, poivre noir fraichement moulu
- 1 poivron rouge, rôti, épluché et coupe en petits dés
- le jus d'un demis citron pour finir
Laver le chou frisé et n'en garder que les feuilles. Couper grossièrement et mettre de côté.
Chauffer l'huile d'olive dans une poêle sur feu moyen. Ajouter les oignons, couvrir et laisser cuire jusqu'à ce qu'il deviennent transparents mais ne pas laisser caraméliser, en remuant fréquemment. Ajouter ail, piment vert, cumin, paprika et les herbes et laisser cuire pendant quelques minutes. Ajouter les feuilles de chou frisé, couvrir et cuire jusqu'à ce que les feuilles fondent et qu'elle aient une belle couleur verte. Assaisonner de sel, poivre noir. Ajouter les haricots blancs, égouttés, et le poivron rôti en petits dés. Remuer, couvrir et laisser encore sur un feu doux pendant 10 minutes.
Servir dans un plat avec un filet d'huile d'olive dessus, le jus d'un demis citron et quelques feuilles de coriandre et un oignon vert haché dessus.
B'ssahatkoum (A votre santé)