Provencal bean gratin
2 heaped cups chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 whole cloves
4 to 6 garlic cloves
A bouquet garni made with a sprig of parsley, thyme and bay leaf
Salt to taste
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 kg chopped tomatoes
1/8 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of cayenne
Freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Gruyère, or a combo of Gruyère and Parmesan
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1. Add soaked beans to one litre of water and bring to a boil. Add crushed garlic cloves and the bouquet garni, cover and simmer for one hour. Remove from the heat, discard the garni and drain over a bowl. Measure out 3 cups of the cooking liquid, taste and add salt. Set aside.
2. Brown chopped onions in 1 tablespoon of the oil for five minutes. Add the remaining garlic, and stir for 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, sugar, oregano, cayenne and salt to taste. Cook, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes, until the tomatoes smell fragrant. Stir in the beans and 3 cups of their cooking broth. Simmer over low heat for 30 minutes. Add pepper, taste and adjust salt and garlic.
3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 1.5 litre gratin or baking dish and spoon the tomatoes and beans into it. Combine the breadcrumbs and cheese and toss with a tablespoon of olive oil. Layer over the beans and bake 30 minutes. Serve hot or warm.
Yield: Serves eight to 12.
Spinach and tomato soup
500 kg spinach
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 kg tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon paprika
5 cups water
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup half-cooked rice
Salt to taste
1. Stem and wash the spinach, keeping the stems and leaves separate. Cut the stems into 1/2-inch lengths. Coarsely chop half the leaves.
2. Brown garlic in olive oil for about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and paprika and cook for 5 minutes. Add the spinach stems, water and lemon juice and bring to boil. Cover and cook for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat and add the rice and salt to taste. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Stir in the chopped spinach, simmer one minute and serve.
Yield: Serves four.
Nutritional information: 118 caloies; 4 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 19 grams carbohydrates; 4 grams fibre; 5 grams protein
The New York Times