Once upon a time, Mark and I had a friend from Tonga. One day he invited us to his church for a special celebration. He said the festivities started at 11. Mark and I took the train from
About 45 minutes later, our friend said, “I bet you’re wondering where all the people are and when the service will start.” Why, yes, we said, that question did cross our minds. “Well,” he said, “We are on Tongan time. Which means it doesn’t matter when we start. All that matters is that the service happens.” People began trickling in a few minutes later, and after another half an hour there was a boisterous crowd. The service, indeed, did happen. (And was followed by a feast that involved five whole spit-roasted pigs, but that is another story.)
Let’s go now: Let’s go sometime in the next couple of hours.
Let’s go just now: Let’s go sometime in the next hour.
Let’s go now now: Let’s go now.
After a day of meetings that started “just now” and e-mail replies that came, belatedly, “now,” sometimes I want dinner now now. If you find yourself in a similar situation, then you can prepare Chickpeas and Swiss Chard in the Style of the Tunisian Sahel. The recipe comes straight from Paula Wolfert, the doyenne of Moroccan and Tunisian cuisine. I am reprinting it here only so I can provide the metric equivalents – I didn’t change the recipe one bit. It makes for a quick, light nutritious meal, or a vibrant side. I love the different textures, the spicy kick and the fact that you can eat this dish warm or cold. The one question your dinner-mates will ask, of course, is where, oh where is the Tunisian Sahel? “
Time to go eat – now now!
Chickpeas and Swiss Chard in the Style of the Tunisian
From Mediterranean Cooking
Makes 2 servings (4 as a side)
¾ pound / 340 grams Swiss chard leaves, stemmed, rinsed and torn into large pieces
2 large cloves of garlic, peeled
½ teaspoon / 2.5 milliliters coarse salt
1 teaspoon / 5 milliliters ground coriander
1 small dried red chili
30 milliliters / 2 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup / 80 grams minced onion
2 teaspoons / 10 milliliters tomato paste
1 cup / 165 grams cooked chickpeas, with ¾ cup / 190 milliliters cooking liquid*
1 lemon, cut in wedges (optional)
Steam, parboil or microwave the chard leaves until tender, about 5 minutes. Set leaves in colander to drain. Squeeze out excess moisture and shred coarsely.
Crush garlic in mortar with salt, coriander and chili until a thick, crumbly paste forms.
Heat olive oil in large skillet and sauté the onion until pale-golden. Add the garlic paste and tomato paste and stir into oil until sizzling. Add chard, cooked chickpeas and cooking liquid and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand until ready to serve. (Contents of skillet should be very moist but not soupy. For a looser texture, stir in more chickpea cooking liquid. Serve warm, at room temperature or cold with lemon wedges.
Note: Broccoli rabe, dandelion leaves, mustard greens, kale or turnip tops may be substituted for Swiss chard. Discard any yellow or damaged leaves and cook like chard. Cooking time will vary.
*Okay, I lied, I realized as I was typing that I didn’t follow this recipe to the letter! I actually used two tins of canned chickpeas, drained, and water instead of the freshly cooked beans and their cooking water. I wanted dinner now now, remember?