With autumn now in full swing and the nights becoming quite chilly, I’ve started to think about food that is warming and soothing. One of my favourite vegetables is swiss chard, which is a really handy staple to have in your vegetable patch. It’s brilliantly easy to grow, and the rainbow stems give wonderful colour to your garden during the long, dark months of winter.

Swiss chard works really well in my version of a Moroccan Harrira, as the tastes of the earthy, irony leaves mix deliciously with the fragrant spices.This recipe makes enough for six people.

Ingredients:

  • 600g of shoulder of lamb cut into largish cubes
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 2 teaspoons of ras-al hanout
  • 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of Aleppo chilli or smoked paprika
  • a good grating of nutmeg
  • 1?2 a tin of chopped tomatoes
  • a good squeeze of tomato puree
  • a pinch of saffron
  • 1 litre of chicken stock
  • 5 large tablespoons of puys lentils
  • a big bunch of rainbow swiss chard, washed

Method:

Place a large casserole dish over a hot heat and add a good glug of extra virgin olive oil. Add the lamb and let is fry and caramelise. While the lamb is frying, finely slice the onion and garlic. When the lamb has coloured nicely, turn down the heat and add the onion, garlic, ras al-hanout, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, Aleppo chilli and nutmeg. Stir everything to combine and allow the spices to coat the onion and lamb then pop a lid on the pot and let everything gently melt down and become sticky. This should take about 8-10 minutes.

Keep an eye on it, as you don’t want the onions or lamb with stick to the bottom. When the onions have really sweated and softened, add the tomato paste and cook for a few more minutes. Now add the tinned tomatoes and pour in the stock. This is quite a ‘soupy’ stew so you do want to add a good amount of stock but not to make it watery. I judge this by pouring in enough stock to cover the meat completely allowing for the lentils to absorb some moisture. Pop the lid back on and then place in the oven at 170c for one and a half hours. Take out the pan and add the lentils and put back in the oven for another 25 minutes.

Now the swiss chard. Remove the stalks from the leaves and slice these into about 1?2 centimetres pieces. Roughly chop the leaves. Put the chopped stalks into the casserole and cook for 5-10 minutes then add the leaves, stir well, and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Delicious eaten with some steamed rice and a watercress salad.

By Fleur & The Food Stork Team

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