photo 4For anyone who knows me well outside of the office, I love food… to a dangerous and adventurous fault. And the truth is, while I have tried a great deal to prove this to others, my presentation would far outweigh my flavor. So earlier this year I vowed to change that by adding real cooking skills to my roster of awesomeness. The progress, well we’re still looking for a judge, but in the mean time since I am not bouncing around Europe as previously planned, I am going to make cooking sharable, awesome, over-the-top, doo-licious meals and share my progress and recipes along the way.

Some context for those who are new to Chris Meadows: I do things big… way too big usually. I over-think, over-do, and over-over most things as art. I go big and interesting, or I go home to think about it and go again. When I had roommates in my younger editions of life, dinner nights were often fake restaurants with menus, accents, music, and all. Brian (@bt3k) had competing nights where something like “Simple Food Place” one week met “Italian Dinner Place” the next week… The winner? Whole Foods who took all our monies for said adventure.

Now it’s my turn to build up my Chef-ery skills for keeps this time, but for reals this time. As many know I plan to start a local “stop” one day, and a guys got to learn to cook to impress and serve someday. That’s today, welcome to the new ‘Kitchen le Simple’ column. (Paella is on the list, I promise.)

Here’s how it works: I find a recipe in my growing collection or the inter-webs. (Want to watch me destroy then concur, please send your ideas along. I’ll plan it out, cook it out, invite company to judge, write out recipes, and share here. Comment, don’t comment, invite yourself over to judge future Kitchen le Simple adventures. Mondays? Here we go!

Our first Kitchen le Simple adventure comes from an actual cook book. Yes, a real printed paper book, that I bought not downloaded. It’s an adapted recipe from Tal Ronnen, a super awesome vegan chef and founder of Lyfe Kitchen which are poping up in California. (Please eat there… not vegan and but love every plate.)

Chefing  and  for the first  on the blog...It caught my eye with the San Marzano tomatoes I remember form Italy and France. I didn’t eat them there, I just remember that they had those cans at home… the little things. On further inspection I found myself excited about the possibility of making this right the first time, read on. It’s vegetable heavy, flavorful,  and the sort of pasta dish Olive Garden wished they could serve.

Beyond flavor, it has health and color going to. Light, and easy to make, this made a perfect place to start the column. I recommend changing up nearly any of the ingredients to enhance your way. Not a chard dude, then go spinach. Not into fancy spices like fennel or thyme, go classic with fresh basil or arugula. Either way it will come out great, you’ll feel like you ate your veggies for the week, and you’ll look and smell good too.

photo 5Tech Specs

  • Compatibility: Vegan Friendly
  • Skill Level: Legibly Simple
  • Kinda Serves: 4 Plates
  • Prep: 30 Minutes


  • Sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin oil
  • 2 onions, quartered and sliced
  • 2 fennel bulbs, halved and sliced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can peeled Italian San Marzano tomatoes, drained
  • 4 garlic cloves, slide
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 cups roughly chopped Swiss chard
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
  • 3/4 cup green olives, roughly chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
  • 8 ounces whole wheat penne, recommended al dente

Just Do It

  • Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the bottom with a pinch of salt and heat for 1 minute. Add the oil and heat for 30 more seconds, being careful not to let it smoke. This will create a nonstick effect.
  • Add the onions and fennel and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomatoes, crushing each with your hand (literally crush crazy hard into pieces), along with the garlic, stock, wine, and chard. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Add the lemon juice and olives and simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until the olives are tender. Fold in the tarragon, an dthyme, along with the hot pasta. Serve immediately.

Adapted form “The Conscious Cook” by Tal Ronnen