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A holiday breather, from 'Plenty'

December 19, 2011 | 12:09 pm

PlentyThere comes a time when even the most enthusiastic eater has to admit weakness. And that time usually comes right before Christmas, when the excess of holiday dining reaches some kind of saturation point. For me, that came this weekend, after a couple of celebratory dinners and the Saturday night judging of my second cookie contest of the season (a fund-raiser at Long Beach's Bayshore Community Congregational Church, put on by the irrepressible Justin Rudd and judged by myself, Tim "Mr. Long Beach" Grobaty and some dude in a red suit and white beard). 

Sunday night, I was deeply in need of something a little lighter. And so I turned, once again, to Yotam Ottolenghi's new book, "Plenty." I've written about this book before, plenty of times, you could say. But I keep mentioning it because I keep finding great food in it.

This time, it was a simple saute of Swiss chard and chickpeas. Couldn't have been easier to put together -- blanch and chop chard, saute carrots and add chickpeas and chopped chard. That's pretty much it. What makes it special is the subtle bottom note of caraway seeds that are cooked with the carrots, and then the final lift of chopped mint and cilantro and a crushed clove of garlic that is added at the very end, just before you take if off the heat.

Topped with a spoonful of good Greek yogurt and a drizzle of good olive oil, it provided just the breather that was needed. And now it's back to the holidays. Anybody got cookies?


Short Cake bakery is open

Artisan House opens in downtown L.A.

Holiday chocolate pop-up: Madame Chocolat + Jacques Torres

--Russ Parsons

Photos: Russ Parsons/Los Angeles Times