Nancy's photos 200

I have been trying not to let anything go to waste that is in my fridge or cabinets.  I grew up with my mother and grandparents encouraging my siblings and I to not let any food we served ourselves going to waste.  Specifically, I remember my father’s mother, Grandma Val, repeating apparently a military mess hall statement, “take all you want, but eat all you take”.  Grandma was firm about this and did she have reason to!

My grandmother grew up as the oldest daughter of two young immigrants from Poland.  She was born in Chicopee, MA (at home) in November of 1917, a sister followed her one year later.  After that, her parents  marriage fell apart and my great-grandmother Kate raised two children as a single mother from about 1919 on.   Another sister was born a few years later.   It’s not easy for single parents now and it was not easy for them back then at all.  Grandma Val recalled being ridiculed and turned down when her mother asked for help from the church.   My grandmother and her sister did not speak English until they entered grammar school at the first grade and their mother never did fully grasp the English language.  My great grandmother did a variety of things to support her family and one of them was operating a bathtub gin speakeasy out of her own house.  When she suspected a raid was coming, she would hide the jugs of gin in bed with my grandmother and great-aunt.  My great grandmother also suffered numerous burns from running her homemade still.  Regardless, she was able to provide for her family and put food on the table.  Often the produce was homegrown.  My dad talks about her legendary homemade Polish food such as: pillowy saurkraut pierogies and gawumkis (meat stuffed cabbage rolls) that of course recipes were never handed and/or written down.  They exist in memories and forever in my test kitchen until my dad approves.  This recipe is dedicated to my great-grandmother, it is not Polish, but it reminds me that food is precious and not to be wasted.

prep time: 10 minutes
cooking time: 25 minutes
serves: approximately 3

1 tblsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 red peppers, seeded and chopped
salt and pepper
2 c. low/no sodium veggie stock
1 rind of a parmesean cheese block, if you have
1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
few handfuls of fresh spinach
handful of almonds, chopped
parmesean cheese

In a large heavy pot (yet another chance to use the enameled cast iron Dutch oven) heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add in the onion, garlic, and pepper, and season lightly with salt and pepper.  Saute till the veggies are softened and onions transluscent, about 5-7 minutes.  Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to a boil, lower heat to low, drop in parmesean rind, cover, and let simmer for about 25 minutes.  Blend till smooth in blender or food processor.  Return to the pot and correct for seasoning.  Add in chickpeas and warm through.  When ready to serve, take out the rind and use on bread if you wish.  Ladle out bowlfuls and top with spinach, almonds, and shredded parmesean.