I was in a mood to cook something good for us this week, and since we no longer have a CSA and I haven’t been to the farmers’ market in a while, I just took my time in the grocery store’s produce section, and came home with a bunch of swiss chard, leeks, and carrots. I came up with this.
8-9 chicken thighs (you can use chicken breasts, but adjust the amount (fewer) and the time (more) accordingly)
olive oil, salt, pepper
4 leeks, washed thoroughly and cut into small disks
6 carrots, peeled and roughly cut into 3″ pieces
2 large bunches swiss chard, stems removed and chopped roughly
1 can white (cannellini) beans
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
Preheat the oven to 425F.
Spread a tablespoon or two of olive oil at the bottom of a heavy roasting pan, and then add the leeks and carrots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dry the chicken thighs with a paper towel, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add to the roasting pan on top of the vegetables. Roast for 30-40 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 165F.
Meanwhile, heat another tablespoon of olive oil in the bottom of a dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed pot. Add the garlic, and stir for one to two minutes. Add the chard and a little salt, and stir frequently until the chard wilts, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse the can of beans, and add the beans to the chard. Heat through.
And there you have it. This was so easy and inexpensive, but the really exciting thing came the next night, when I decided to get creative with leftovers. “Creative with leftovers” usually means making pasta and sauce into … (wait for it) baked pasta with sauce. But I was feeling inspired, and Ina doesn’t really do much with leftovers, because why would she?
When the first round was finished and I was ready to put it all away, I added the chicken, vegetables, and all of the cooking liquid from the roasting pan into the pot with the chard and beans. All of the chicken and vegetables sat in the rich broth overnight, and when I pulled it out of the fridge the next night, I was inspired to make a stew out of it. I left everything in the dutch oven, brought it to a simmer on the stove, and added one cup of quinoa. Fifteen minutes later, we had chicken vegetable quinoa stew. It was really good! I think I would add another can of white beans to the stew part if I did it again. You could easily do this with spinach or kale, or even collards. I like chard for a change of pace every once in a while, and there’s just something about white beans and chard that make them more than the sum of their parts. Likewise, I could have used an onion instead of the leeks, but leeks are just so elegant and taste so good. I might add some fresh herbs (parsley, maybe thyme) next time, too.
This is the kind of meal that you can make while also checking homework, supervising piano practice, emptying the dishwasher, etc. I even took a shower when the chicken first went into the oven. Overcooking chicken thighs is not a cardinal sin – there’s some definite wiggle room there if the chicken finishes up before the vegetables do. I need things that are mostly hands-off during the week, especially as I’m juggling another dinner (or two) for the kids that wouldn’t touch any of that with a ten-foot pole. Neil and I both loved this, and I’ll definitely make it again.