Except that I can’t eat any. I’m having a minor test done tomorrow, which means I can only ingest clear fluids for 24 hours. Me! Going without food for 24 hours! Plus however much time I spend at the hospital tomorrow afternoon, which I’m sure will seem far longer on an empty stomach.
So, planning to spend a full Sunday out of the kitchen (very unusual for me), I made a batch of chicken stew with pesto yesterday for Mike and W. If I didn’t work in the food world, and had just a few go-to dinner recipes in my repertoire, this would be one of them. If I was one of those Moms who made meals on rotation – meatloaf Mondays, spaghetti Tuesdays, pork chop Wednesdays, and so on, this would definitely make the cut. Willem loves it (possibly on account of the pesto, which he seems to be in love with), and so do Mike and I. For some reason it turns out creamier tasting than it should, and is far more interesting than the sum of its (veg, legumes and skinless chicken or turkey) parts. Plus, it’s another one of those meals that’s freezable or keeps well in the fridge; ideal for dipping in to all week long. And because it’s all in one pot yet isn’t runny like soup, it makes a perfect portable lunch. If when it cools down you divide it into individual freezable containers, you can pull one out in the morning and by lunch it will be partially thawed – still cold enough to be safe, but with a head start on the reheating process.
I have to stop talking about food and go read a book or something to distract myself. Maybe I’ll open up A Stew or a Story, an assortment of short works by M.F.K. Fisher. If I can’t eat food, I can at least read about it…
Chicken & White Bean Stew with Pesto
Canola or olive oil, for cooking with
1 large onion, chopped
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken thighs or turkey breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 big cloves of garlic, crushed
½ tsp. ground cumin
1 19 oz. (540 mL) can white kidney or navy beans, drained
1 can chicken broth
a few drops of Tabasco or a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup (or a couple of big spoonfuls) basil or sun-dried tomato pesto
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for serving (optional)
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pot set over medium heat. Cook the onion and chicken pieces for about 5 minutes, until the onions are starting to brown and the chicken is opaque. Add the celery, carrots, and red pepper and cook for a few more minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic and cumin and cook for another minute.
Add the beans, chicken broth, Tabasco and some salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low, cover and let cook for about 45 minutes.
Stir in the pesto and serve topped with Parmesan cheese. Serves 4-6, or 2-3 with leftovers. It doubles easily if you want to make a bigger batch.