Spicy cherry tomato chickpea stew; oven roasted hash browns

Spicy cherry tomato chickpea sauce

Spicy cherry tomato chickpea sauce

– Au moins si l’on mangeait du pain à sa suffisance ! répéta pour la troisième fois Étienne, sans transition apparente. (“If only we had enough bread to eat,” Etienne repeated for the third time, with no apparent connection.) I’ve just started reading Germinal by Zola. I haven’t read enough of it to talk about it much (yet) but so far I like it as much as cherries. I love this exchange, in the very first conversation in the book, in which Etienne Latiner says three times, “…if only one had enough bread to eat,” with no apparent connection. And now, with no apparent connection, I’m going to tell you that Hergé (yes, that Hergé) was the pen name of Georges Remi. His initials arranged backwards (RG) and pronounced Frenchly, became Hergé. Of course, when I read this I thought about what mine would be. AC (never you mind that Claire isn’t actually my first name!) or AH SAY or … assez, enough. (French friends, correct me if I’m wrong). Well, I like the word “enough,” I like the concept. It’s not as voluptuous and joyful as “plenty,” but it seems honest and practical, “it is right or needful.” If we have enough bread to eat we can live and be content, and if we have plenty of bread we can turn it into bread pudding. Enough is just what we need, and all that we can ask. Enough money to live, enough food to eat, enough strength to carry on from day to day, and enough humor to enjoy it all. If nobody had too much, then everybody would have enough. And there’s no reason the world can’t work that way, except that to greedy and deluded people too much is never enough. Enough also means done to perfection, “Bake it in the oven, and when enough, strew Sugar again over it.” And now this essay is probably enough. I’ve said enough, and you’ve had enough of it. But when you see the graffiti tag ASSEZ all over the world, you’ll know where it came from.

Oven-roasted hash browns

Oven-roasted hash browns

We picked enough cherry tomatoes at the farm to last for weeks! There was “no limit” on what we could pick, and the four of us collected a beautiful pile of jewelly tomatoes, bright and sweet and perfect. I decided to make them into a sauce with chickpeas, because it’s sweet that they’re nearly the same size. I cooked half of the tomatoes until they were soft and stewy, and saved half to the end, to add their bright freshness. I seasoned this with smoked paprika, ginger and cinnamon and topped it with fresh basil, chives and parsley. I thought it was pretty and tasty! We also got a lot of potatoes and fresh herbs from the farm, and I had the idea of grated them and tossing them with together with olive oil, and roasting them till crisp. These sort of oven-roasted hash browns made a nice base for the saucy tomatoes and chickpeas.

Here’s earworm extraordinaire Just Can’t Get Enough by Depeche Mode.


2 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t red pepper flakes (or to taste)
2 – 3 cups cherry tomatoes of different sizes, colors and shapes, chopped in half
1 can chickpeas
1/4 cup white wine
1/2 t smoked paprika
large pinch each, cinnamon and ginger
1 – 2 cups baby spinach, washed and chopped
1 T butter
1 t balsamic or lemon juice
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper
1 T fresh chives, chopped
2 T fresh parsley, chopped
small handful fresh basil, chopped

Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for about a minute till the garlic starts to brown. Add half the cherry tomatoes. Cook and stir until they’re soft and wilted and breaking down. Then add the chickpeas and white wine. Cook till the wine is reduced. Add the spices and about 1 cup of water. Bring to a low boil, reduce heat and simmer until the tomatoes are very soft and saucy. Add more water as you need to to make it as saucy as you like it. When it’s cooked as you like it, add the spinach, and cook for about a minute more to wilt it.

Stir in the butter and lemon juice and the other half of the tomatoes. Stir to coat them and cook for a minute or two, till they just start to soften. Season well with salt and pepper and add the fresh herbs. Serve

POTATOES

1 1/2 half pounds small potatoes, scrubbed, peeled and coarsely grated
2 – 3 T olive oil
fresh herbs–rosemary, sage, savory, thyme…whatever you like
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 450. Combine the potatoes with the olive oil and herbs and spread on a large baking sheet. Roast for 35 – 40 minutes until they’re brown and crispy. You’ll have to turn them and rearrange them from time to time to be sure that they brown evenly. They’ll form little clumps and pockets of softness, but that’s nice.

When they’re done, season well with salt and pepper.

But a pile of roasted potatoes on a plate, top with tomato chickpea stew and some grated mozzarella.

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