come on sweetheart
let’s adore one another
before there is no more
of you and me
— from Fountain of Fire, Rumi
It’s Monday evening as I write this, cool enough for the first time this year to be wearing socks and a jumper. The kids are asleep, their soft breathing barely audible from the next room. I’m at the kitchen table, staring out through the big window that overlooks the city, the huge gum tree in our neighbour’s back garden a black shadow against the lilac-and-honey-streaked sky of sunset.
I’ve always been a morning person, but this quiet hour of the gloaming is fast becoming one of my favourite parts of the day. It won’t last long – by the time summer ends, night will have fallen well before the kids’ bedtime. So I’ll enjoy it while it lasts – breathing in the silence while I write, or read, water the plants, sit out on the terrace, watch another day draw to a close. Despite our proximity to the city, the birds are loud here, a small fact that brings me unexpected happiness. Soon S and I will crawl into bed together, reading and talking and touching. All the best things.
This Sautéed Beetroot, Broccoli & Chickpeas is the kind of dish that I find joyful to cook. The kind of dish I make when the haul from the markets is too fresh and buoyant to hide beneath sauces or frittatas or curries. I made this dish frequently at the end of last year, when the farmers markets were piled high with baby beetroot in candy stripes of pink and white, tightly coiled broccoli trees, sweet crispy snowpeas. It showcases the vegetables in all of their glory, just a splash of heat and oil to draw out the flavours.
This is a simple meal, a celebration of spring and the onset of warm nights. It’s a ten-minute, one-pan kind of meal, for those evenings when you want to be out of the kitchen and enjoying the slow wind-down of the day. It’s colour and crunch and lemon zing. It’s a reminder that the finer things in life are often the simplest, already there for the taking.
Sautéed Beetroot, Broccoli & Chickpeas
This is a lovely light dinner (or lunch), but could be thrown over soba noodles or brown rice if you’re looking for something a little more substantial. The simplicity of this dish means that using the freshest, best quality vegetables you can get your hands on will make all the difference.
1 head broccoli
6 small beetroot
1 cup chickpeas, freshly cooked or canned
2 tsps sesame seeds
2 tsps sunflower seeds
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp sesame oil
Juice of 1 small lemon
Start by preparing the vegetables. Top and tail the beetroot, then slice finely using a mandoline (or a very sharp knife!). Trim the top of the snowpeas and remove the string down the side. Chop off the broccoli stem then cut the florets into bite-sized pieces by slicing up through the stems.
Heat the olive oil over a medium-high heat in a shallow, wide frypan. Add the sliced beetroot, broccoli and snowpeas. Sauté for 5 – 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to colour and crisp. Add the chickpeas, sesame seeds and sunflower seeds, and continue to cook, stirring frequently, for anther 3 – 4 minutes. Keep the heat high and stir frequently so that the veges retain their crunch! A little blistering is good, but if they start to wilt, then they’re ready to eat.
Remove from the heat, toss through with the lemon juice and sesame oil. Eat immediately.
Serves: 2 – 4