Cooking For One: Retreat Lunch
TYPE: Out-of-Town Weekday Working Lunch
MAIN INGREDIENTS: Chard, Chickpea, No Knead Bread
It’s a rare treat that Cara and I actually get not only to eat together but also to prepare a meal in the same kitchen. Even if the opportunity did readily present itself to cook in tandem, our apartment kitchens are not so conducive to sharing, especially when one of us is on our home turf and in a hurry–or just an only child, like myself.
But a few weeks ago we decided to get away from the distractions of city life and hunker down to book writing and brainstorming for a little while. On a Tuesday morning we fled for Cara’s mom’s house in Long Island, stocked up on a mere $40 of groceries for the week (a joint experiment in and of itself—who knew Cara compared milk prices as obsessively as I do!), and got to work. We made a lot of index cards with chapter titles, recipe names, and other crazy coding matrices. And, naturally, we did a lot of cooking.
Our first working lunch was founded upon Cara’s No-Knead Bread, which had emerged from the oven as one beautiful, crusty round earlier that morning. We had bought a lot of random greens the day before, and with this meal of stewed beans and greens in mind, Cara suggested sautéed chard and chickpeas on top of a toasted piece of bread. And with my mind still on breakfast (we had already dug into the bread), I said that I’d make a scallion butter to slather on top of each slice.
Soon, Cara was manning the greens while I doctored the butter and bread (and consuming any uneven slices that happened to fly my way). Save for one minor disaster involving a shattered wine glass in my hand, lunch was on the table in a flash, with only a small amount of blood shed in the process.
From my kitchen, where Cara sautés the greens and makes the tourniquets, to yours,
Phoebe, THE QUARTER-LIFE COOK
Makes 2 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and coarsely chopped
1/3 cup white wine
1 15oz can chickpeas, just a bit of the liquid tipped out
2 tbsp butter (room temperature)
2 scallions (green parts only), thinly sliced
Pecorino cheese for garnish (optional)
In a medium skillet, sauté the shallot and garlic in the oil until translucent and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Stir in the red pepper flakes. Add the chard to the pan, tossing to coat with the vegetables, then turn the heat up and add the wine, bringing it quickly to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquids have reduced, and the chard is wilted. Add the chickpeas and most of their liquid, keeping the mixture moist. Continue to cook until the chard is tender. Season with salt and red pepper, and set aside.
In the meantime, cream the butter with the scallions until smooth and soft. Add salt if the butter was unsalted. Place back in the refrigerator to firm up until the chard has finished cooking.
To serve, slather the toast with a healthy (or not, depending on how you look at it) layer of scallion butter. Top each slice with a big portion of the chard and chickpea mixture, and garnish with grated pecorino cheese.