26 March 2006
To the table in 30 minutes or less…
(picture on hold until camera’s card decides to cough up the data…)
In IMBB (“Is My Blog Burning?”), the host picks a theme and food bloggers have a weekend to prepare and post about a meal that fits the theme. I’ve considered participating once or twice, but never actually got around to it until this weekend.
The theme this time was “Make it in 30 Minutes”. My typical quick meal is to saute boneless skinless chicken, add roasted red peppers or some other kind of vegetable, toss in and wilt a green at the last minute, and serve it with pasta. But in the days leading up to this event, I came across two recipes that intrigued me: a recipe for Chickpea and Chorizo stew in an article about food blogs at the online version of an Irish newspaper, and a Greek-style chickpea salad in the “Weeknight Kitchen” e-newsletter from the Splendid Table. (Weeknight Kitchen recipes are not archived online, due to agreements with publishers, but the latter recipe originally appeared in The Best Light Recipe from the Editors of Cook’s Illustrated.)
So in order to riff on the chorizo and chickpea theme, I decided to modify my standby a little bit. I’m pretty sure I know where I could find chorizo in town, but I’m not sure I’d know how to cook it, so I bought a spicy italian chicken sausage at Trader Joe’s instead. The chickpeas were canned, which perhaps is not in the spirit of IMBB 24’s “from scratch” ideal, but it’s how I do chickpeas. Add some feta and spinach and call it a meal! The chickpea-feta recipe used mint and lemon and such, but that seemed at odds with the spicy italian sausage, so I relied on more typical italian spices instead.
pasta (I used penne)
sausage (I used 2 spicy italian links)
1 cup canned chickpeas
4 oz spinach, chopped
1 Tab balsamic vinegar (or more)
1 Tab dried basil
1 tsp thyme leaves
Preparation (including times):
00:00 Start water boiling for pasta. Heat saute pan over medium high heat, add a bit of oil.
02:00 Add whole sausage to saute pan.
02:30 Chiffonade spinach (I used about 3 or 4 oz, what I had on hand).
05:00 Cube some feta cheese. Gather up some fruit to serve with dinner. Set table since person whose job it is this week is nowhere nearby. Turn sausage every now and then.
10:30 Remove sausage from pan to slice into thin rounds. Return to pan for more browning.
16:30 Notice the water is boiling, so add the pasta.
17:00 Remove sausage to bowl. Add 1 cup garbanzo beans to saute pan. Reduce heat to medium.
18:00 Add vinegar. Scrape the pan a bit in the spirit of deglazing. Cover and steam.
21:00 Add basil, thyme leaves, salt to taste, and some more water to saute pan. Do another deglazing scrape. Return sausage to pan. Reduce heat to medium low, continue to steam and simmer.
26:30 Just as pasta timer is going off, add spinach to saute pan. Drain pasta.
27:00 (Reserve some plain pasta if you have children who prefer it that way; then:) Toss pasta with contents of saute pan and feta cheese.
There you have it – a one-dish meal, prepared in just under 30 minutes! (not counting the 5 minutes it took to get everyone to the table at that point…) For fruit we had sliced apples and some cantaloupe left over from the night before.
So how was it? I liked the combo, especially how the chickpeas absorbed some of the flavor from the balsamic vinegar. My husband enjoyed the meal but was not keen on chickpeas with pasta. He first stated that he preferred his chickpeas in something like a stew, but then admitted that he used to add them to salads, so started rethinking his position. I guess there were quite a few redundancies in the meal – the sausage and feta provided a protein punch independent the chickpeas, and the pasta provided a starch without the chickpeas. But the idea of chickpeas has been gnawing at me for days, so I had to do it! Maybe I’ll try something similar but without the pasta, and see what we think of that.