This dish is the result of what I call the first battle of the refrigerator wars. Reminiscent of looking into a full closet without the faintest idea of what to wear, the refrigerator wars is the kitchen analogy. Why do I have so much food in the pantry and the refrigerator, but I have nothing to eat? The solution to this problem, which everyone faces, can be answered in a variety of ways. The easy solution is to go out to eat or make convenience food out of a box or a can. The overachiever will solve this issue by going to the store and buying all the ingredients for a recipe that is appealing during this desperate hour. The defeated solution is to not appeal to the appetite, and munch on whatever you can–a nut, a tortilla chip with ketchup, dry ramen, whatever. But the winner will conjure up a dish that is healthy and easy, yet appetizing and flavorful.
Today, this is what I had, and this is what I came up with:
- 1/4 Kabocha Squash, cubed
- 1 strip of bacon, cooked and sliced
- 3 small collard green leaves, cut into thin strips
- 1/4 cup cooked garbanzo beans
- 1/4 red onion
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 tbs olive oil
- Spices: 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp thyme, 1 tsp paprika, 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp coarse ground black pepper, pinch of salt
- Slice of lemon as garnish
First, render the fat out of the strip of bacon by heating on medium low heat for about 5 minutes, making sure to flip the bacon allowing it to get crispy, but not burnt. The best use of all that bacon fat is to just season your cast iron skillet, nothing more. Dump the excess. If you want, you can use the thin layer left on the pan in place of the olive oil for more flavor.
In a separate pan, heat the olive oil on medium high. Saute the squash for 5 minutes. Add onion and garlic. When the squash is soft, add beans. Season the dish with the spices. Let the veggies cook together and soak up flavor. Next, add the greens and stir well. Add the balsamic vinegar. You should hear a nice sizzle from the liquid becoming steam. Also, the greens don’t take long to cook, so once their color becomes more brilliant, turn the heat off.
Meanwhile, cut up the crispy bacon into bacon bits and mix with the ingredients. Served as a side, makes 4 servings. I hoarded it for myself, and this made a hearty serving for 1.
One secret to winning a refrigerator war is to always have beans on hand. They go well in so many dishes, but they take a long time to make from dry beans. If you have a pressure cooker, you can soak the beans and cook them within a couple hours, and it doesn’t require any babysitting. Time is gonna pass anyways–might as well make beans. Make beans while you do the Sunday laundry/cleaning or while you’re winding down with an evening movie. Making them yourself sure is better for avoiding the heavy sodium content found in canned beans.
This dish was smoky and flavorful with gobs of nutrition from greens, beans, and squash. The crispy bacon certainly made it delightful as well. I’d say this battle of the refrigerator wars was won gracefully and deliciously.