Well, I believe that there are certain flavors that go together perfectly, as well. When you taste them they just make sense, and they hum in your mouth. Frequently they grow together and ripen together, which almost makes you agree with Piero della Francesca’s assessment that there’s some divine pattern accounting for all of the harmonies in the world. Tomatoes and basil, for example. Perfect. And I like to think about my piano teacher’s idea of introducing one element of flavor that’s surprising and unexpected, and makes all of the other happily harmonizing flavors more exciting. Some flavors hum along together, some contrast pleasantly, to create a beat. Personally, I love chard and french lentils together. And I love chard and some sweet and tangy fruit. And I love them all together in a crispy crust. I really liked these empanadas! It’s one of my favorite meals I’ve made in a while. I combined chard, which had been sauteed with a bit of garlic and hot red pepper, with lentils, which had been cooked with nigella seeds and sage. I added some caramelized onions, for sweetness. And I added a spoonful of quince jam. I used queso blanco & mozzarella to make everything nice and melty, and bring it all together. I’d read that in argentina they make empanadas with quince paste and salty white cheese, and I guess this is my version of that. We ate these with my version of patatas bravas, which I’ll tell you about in a little while, and, I’m not saying it was a masterpiece, or anything, but it was very pleasing meal to have in out little green backyard on a cool summer evening.
Here’s Leonard Cohen with Hallelujah. Is he talking about a chord with divine and magical powers? I’m never sure. I like the word “hallelujah.”
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 t salt
1 stick butter – frozen
Combine the flours and the salt. Grate in the butter, and stir it in with a fork. Add just enough ice water to pull everything into a workable dough (about 1/2 cup, but start with less). Knead for a minute. Wrap in foil and leave in the fridge to chill till you’re ready to use it.
1 medium-sized bunch chard (about 3 cups raw, 1 1/2 cups cooked) washed and chopped quite fine
1 T olive oil
1 plump garlic clove
1/2 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and pepper flakes. When the garlic starts to brown, add the chard. Sautée until it’s wilted but still bright, and the pan is quite dry. Stir in a dash of balsamic. Transfer to a big bowl.
3/4 cup french lentils
1 T olive oil
1 t sage
2 bay leaves
1 t nigella seeds
1 t tamari
salt and plenty of pepper
Warm the olive oil in a small soup pot over medium heat. Add the by leaves, sage and nigella seeds. Cook for a minute. Add the lentils. Stir till they’re well coated with oil and spices. Cook till they sizzle. Add the tamari and about 4 cups or water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer until the lentils are cooked through. They should be soft but still have a bit of texture. About 20 minutes should do it. Drain – saving the broth for soup, and season with salt and pepper. Stir the lentils into the chard.
3 T caramelized onions (or to taste)
1 1/2 cups cheese cut into small cubes (I used a combination of queso blanco and mozzarella) Something mild and salty is nice here – something that melts well.
1 T quince jelly (you could use apricot, or you could leave it out altogether)
4 fresh sage leaves, chopped fine
Taste for salt and season well with pepper.
Break the dough into 8 balls. Roll each one to be about 6 inches across and 1/8 th inch thick. Put a heaping spoonful of filling in the middle, a little off center. (A good rule is to use the same sized-amount of filling as the ball of dough started out.)
Fold the circle in half, and fold the edges up once. Transfer to a lightly buttered baking sheet. Seal the edges with the tines of a fork, and poke the top twice with the fork to let the steam escape.
Bake at 400 until they’re starting to brown on the edges. Should take about 1/2 an hour.