My intention was to make a rather elegant autumn dish that could be at home with a bowl of soup, constructed into pretty piles for a starter, eaten with a fork whilst balancing a laptop and avoiding a napping lap cat (my default lunch position), or popped alongside a piece of grilled fish/marinated tofu. I think I got this right, except for the elegant.
Oh, I can’t do elegant if you threatened me with a court summons. Or dental drill.
But if I squint at the images I think I can claim that it looks like an autumnal pile of leaves. One of those gastronomical tricks, like edible soil or bacon and eggs ice cream – but easy and, um, normal.
I’m certainly not comparing myself to Heston Blumenthal or Rene Redzepi – or any actual chef. That would be silly. However, it is convenient for my style of presentation and cooking that we are entering the season of the imprecise plate. Tiny, measured squiggles and itty bitty stacks of fine leaves and vegetable curls are going the way of deep-dished hearty food and platters of plenty. I for one am relieved. If you are into seasonal ingredients, global twists and messy plates, then you have come to the right place.
This jumbled, fall-hued plate of vegetables, olive oil-kissed crumbs and nuts, and the little dots of sharp, lemony cheese is just the kind of healthy food I like to see put before me at this time of year. No skimping on flavour or texture, but super easy and so versatile. I can eat this whole dish if no one is looking, but it is made for sharing and serving with other like-minded dishes, like a thick smooth autumn soup (contrasts, see?), or as a light but non-fiddly starter if feeding others. The migas* can be made ahead and just reheated on the hob for a minute and then strewn over the just-cooked vegetables. In fact, make double and use to top soup, pasta or grain salads throughout the week. Just hide your stash, like I do.
What is your favourite messy dish?
- Migas is a couple of different types of dishes, depending on where you are eating it. In Spain it is largely a picky snack of coarse, soaked, then cooked bread often served with eggs or chorizo. Whereas in Mexico (or California) it is interpreted as an all-in-one tortilla, egg and spice dish, that is also quite messy and “crumby”. At on-trend restaurants it is often what I (perhaps you too) and Italians would call pangritata, like in this old but yummy recipe.
Chard, Squash & Goat’s Curd with Garlic- Almond Migas Recipe
Is this a starter, side dish, light meal or a filling snack? If you are me, then it is all four. I mostly enjoy this for quickish lunch on its own, but it is perfect as a side dish, or to go with a warming bowl of something like my vegan creamy broccoli-basil soup, or this beetroot, cumin and fennel soup. You can also add a tin of rinsed white beans to make it heartier and give more protein.
Use winter squash, thinly sliced and with any edible seeds if you like, or with any summer squash that may still be growing in your garden or sold at the market. I would recommend Delicata or acorn squash as these two seem to bridge summer and winter and are firm but with thin, edible skins – less faff! The clincher though is the crispy, smoky “migas” – a Spanish coarse breadcrumb snack. It’s a bit of a “now” way to top salads and soups, but really it is just fancied-up, day-old bread. Enjoy. xx
200g (6.9 oz) well-washed rainbow chard or Swiss chard, stalk separated from leaf
100g (3.6 oz) winter squash or older summer squash (see the end for ideas of what to do with leftover squash)
1 ½ tbsp olive oil, divided use
50g (3/4 cup) coarsely chopped country bread – really anything but “pappy” white bread: ciabatta, sourdough, seeded wholegrain etc*
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced – optional
Zest from 1 unwaxed lemon
1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves (more to taste)
50g (round 1/3 cup) almonds – Marcona are best for taste, but pricier
Small pinch of smoked paprika (about 1/8 tsp)
1 fat garlic clove (smoked garlic if possible), thinly sliced
50g (2 oz) goats curd or soft goats cheese – optional
Truffle honey or chestnut honey, to drizzle – very much optional!
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
*gluten-free bread is absolutely fine here
2. Peel the squash if needs be. I used an older summer squash with firm but edible skin. Most winter-type squashes will need a light peeling. Remove any hard seeds but keep the softer ones. Slice thinly as shown.
3. For the migas, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a sauté pan and fry the crumbs over a medium flame until just starting to colour. Add the chilli, half of the lemon zest, half of the rosemary and all of the almonds, smoked paprika and garlic slices, turning over in the pan and frying until darkened but not at all burnt. You must keep an eye on it at all times. I know from experience how quickly it can burn! Stir in the remaining zest and rosemary and take off the heat. Set aside.
4. Now heat a wok or large sauté pan with the remaining oil. Stir fry the chard stems and the squash until softened – about three minutes. Add the leaves and a couple of tablespoons of water. Cover the pan and let steam for a further five minutes, until just tender – less if the leaves are young looking.
5. Lift the steamed vegetables with a slotted spoon onto each plate. Top with dots of goats curd and scatter over the crispy, fragrant migas. Drizzle with truffle honey or chestnut honey if you like. I like.
Sage, rosemary, garlic, cumin, miso, garlic, chillies
Lime, coriander/cilantro, ginger, mint, coconut milk
Feta, Fontina, Taleggio, Gruyere
Hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, cobnuts
Onions, apples, pears, quinces, plums
Dishes: pasta, grains, dips, soups, gratins, bakes, sweet baking (grated in or roasted and blended in), even smoothies.
Popping this over to a couple of appropriate places. Do drop by these lovely blogs to have a nosey around, and maybe add your own recipe. First to No Waste Food Challenge, via Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary and Veggie Desserts. And also to A Mummy Too for the anything goes Recipe Of The Week linky.