Brad and I love to cook, especially together. But we haaaaaate planning meals. I think we have a three-year hangover from having to note and rotate every single oil, spice, and other ingredient we ate while trying an elimination diet.
When Brad plans the meals, they’re always simple and satisfying. Brad gives us taco night, grilled veggies and salmon, soup, hearty salads, and the occasional pizza.
He is eminently reasonable.
Under my watch, we try new recipes with moderately obscure ingredients, ambitious cooking projects we have no business trying on a weeknight, and roasted vegetables every other day. And we also get wine. I’m not sure Brad even knows this, but when I’m trolling my Delicious tags or browsing my cookbooks and magazines for dinner ideas, I’m always on the lookout for a recipe that calls for wine. Because as everyone knows, once you open a bottle of wine, you can’t let it languish in the fridge for weeks. You must drink it.
So that’s how I do. I choose a recipe with wine, go to Trader Joe’s to look at labels and pretend and wish I knew what it all meant, then inevitably choose whatever I’m standing in front of when my patience runs out.
Then I come home, unpack the bottles of wine (because it’s never just one) and Brad says, “Wine?” with an eyebrow raised. The look is uncannily like the one he gives me when I think he’s not watching and I go to the cupboard in the kitchen where we keep the chocolate and sneak a few squares. “Chocolate?” …raised eyebrow. I think he likes it when I try to make up some elaborate excuse about how my body craves antioxidants or why girls who had to sit in one-hour long meetings explaining their insurance benefits deserve a square or two before dinner.
Anyway. Wine for recipes is legit, is what I’m saying. As is this meal! It’s super simple: garlic, leeks, thyme, tomatoes…but somehow it all comes together in a complex, creamy, satisfyingly savory dish. It’s going on my no-brainer dinner list, right after grilled cheese.
cod with garbanzo beans and kale
adapted from Seamus Mullen’s Hero Food
makes 2 servings
Chef Mullen’s version of this recipe includes cod tripe. I have one word on that front: No. His also needs a pressure cooker, uses dried beans (I would have done that were I not pressed for time), and lists some type of Spanish pepper I can’t pronounce. I kept the guts of his recipe (but not the tripe) to make this fast, one-skillet meal last Friday night.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 large or 2 small leeks, thinly sliced
3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup white wine (I used a Chardonnay)
fresh or dried thyme (I used two big pinches of our dried thyme)
1 dried jalapeno pepper, minced or red pepper flakes
ground black pepper
1 tomato, diced
2 handfuls fresh kale, washed and chopped into large bite-size pieces
2 cod fillets
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large skillet on medium-low heat until the butter melts and the pan is glossy. Add the leeks and garlic and saute until tender. Stir in the beans, wine, a bay leaf, the thyme, jalapeno or red pepper flakes, one or two generous pinches of salt, and the ground black pepper. Cook until the beans almost heat through and the smell makes your knees weak, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Fold in the tomato and kale, then push all the beans and veggies to the sides of the skillet to clear a cooking surface for the fish. Nestle the cod in the center, cover the skillet, and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the fish is just opaque and flaky. Remove from heat, drizzle with more olive oil if you like. Serve hot.
A note on fats: Typically, we don’t heat olive oil. It’s a monounsaturated fat, which means it loses its chemical structure easily when heated. A monounsaturated fat with a wonky chemical structure has less nutrients and can form cancer-causing free radicals. And my family hates cancer. Nevertheless, I used it in this recipe because I felt rebellious (maybe it was the wine?). If you don’t have so much oil angst in your heart and want to do the right thing, try substituting the same amount of coconut oil for the olive oil.