Monday, December 26, 2016

Fast and Festive for Right Now

Colorful, flavorful and nutritious without sugar or fat: citrus salad. Tiz the season.
You're looking at two star grapefruits, 3 satsuma mandarins (seedless clementines), 1 navel orange, 1 tbsp pomegranate arils, 1/2 c fresh cranberries, a bunch of watercress leaves and a small bit of frisee--all cut up and seasoned with poppy seeds, anise seeds and a few fresh mint leaves minced. A few toasted pecans tossed in for crunch. Dressed to go in 2 parts sweet lime juice to 1 part olive oil. It cuts right through the richness of any over the top holiday meal, and makes those more ordinary extraordinary right away.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Holiday Cheer from the Kitchen

Before refrigerated trucks and jet planes, there wasn't much fresh or any food available at this chilling, dark time of year. So if you cared about someone's survival, you often offered gifts of food. Most often preserved or baked or in some form long lasting. That's the origin of Christmas baskets and the Christmas cookie industry. Often foods were fortified with spices known to raise heat inside the body: ginger and cinnamon particularly. Sound familiar right now, gingerbread house builders and cinnamon spiced nog mixers?

So here's the annual prompt of great holiday food gifts to give the people you love. No matter how much stuff they have and how fancy it is, they can still go gaga over a homemade jar of jam or happily nibble spiced nuts with their cocktails. And kids...well, which of them doesn't brighten at the sight of homemade cookies and bars just for them?

Fermented products, with their mega nutrients, are currently the rage of the culinary avant garde. So a jar of pickled asparagus or dilly beans could be the gift of the year. And there's still time to make a few. I've posted the recipe many times; it's in How to Fix a Leek....the book under asparagus. But here it is one more time:
2 lbs. asparagus spears or green beans, cleaned of stems
6 lg garlic cloves, halved and smashed
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 dill head or 2 tbsp dill seed
2½ cups white vinegar
2½ cups water
¼ cup kosher salt (not regular salt)
3  1 qt canning jars with lids
Sterilize jars in boiling water.
Cut woody bottoms from spears and cut spears into 4” lengths (slightly shorter than the jar height). Cut beans into same length so they fit inside the jar.  Put 4 garlic halves in each jar. Evenly divide pepper flakes and dill between each jar. Fill jars tightly with upright spears, mixing bottom and top halves as you go.
In a large saucepan, combine water, vinegar and salt. Stir to dissolve salt and bring to a full boil. Ladle into jars while boiling, filling to ¼” of the top. Shake jars to remove air bubbles. Seal jars. Put back in boiling water 20 minutes. Remove from heat. Listen for the lids to “pop” so you know the jars are securely sealed. Cool. Store in the pantry.  Store opened jars in the refrigerator.
And here's another bit of ferment, from Veggiyana the Dharma of Cooking:

This is good for a week in two pint Mason jars.

2 lbs red beets, greens, stems and roots removed (leave on about 1” to prevent beets from bleeding when boiled)
4 whole cloves
6 black peppercorns
1 tsp ground allspice
1 short cinnamon stick or piece of cinnamon bark
1½ cups vinegar
2 tbsp granulated sugar
1 1/8 tbsp kosher salt

Cook the beets until tender either by roasting them wrapped in foil or boiling them in salted water.  Cool and peel.  Slice the beets into thin disks.  Sterilize the jars by submersion in boiling water.  While still hot, fill them with the sliced beets, cloves, peppercorns, allspice, and about ¼” of cinnamon bark per jar.  In a small saucepan, bring the vinegar and sugar to a boil over medium high heat. Stir in the salt to dissolve.  Pour the hot brine over the beets, filling to almost the top of the jar (leave a tiny space so it doesn’t overflow). Immediately seal the jar.
Stores in the refrigerator up to a week.  

This year's spiced nuts entry is
1 lb walnut halves
1/2 c sugar
2 1/2 tbsp corn oil
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp chili powder

Prehead oven to 325º. Blanch walnuts in boiling water 1 minute, then drain really well. While they're hot, put into a large bowl with corn oil and sugar and toss to blend. Let stand 10 minutes. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment (to keep it clean) and arrange the nuts in a single layer on it. Bake 30-35 minutes, turning them over after 15. When nuts are brown and crisp, put them in a large bowl. Add all the seasonings and toss with the warm nuts to coat. Spread in a single layer to cool. Then pack in airtight tins or jars to give away.

One of the reasons to bake right now is that turning on the oven helps heat the house. So here are suggestions for the love you can share from that oven, no sweat:
 8 oz cheddar cheese
4 oz butter, unsalted
6 drops Tabasco sauce
pinch of salt
1 cup flour

Get out a food processor or chopper.  Chop the cheese until it's coarse. Cut the butter into pieces and add to the cheese. Process until the two are smooth together. Add the remaining ingredients and process very fast, just long enough to make the flour disappear. Chill this dough for at least an hour.

When you're ready to bake, heat the oven to 400º. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silicon mats or butter so nothing sticks. Divide the dough into three equal parts and roll each between your hands into 1 1/8" wide cylinders. Wrap each one in plastic wrap or waxed papper and roll it a bit more so it's now only about 1" thick. Chill the dough in the freezer 10-15 minutes.  Unwrap the cylinders and cut each into 1/8" disks. Line this up on the covered cookie sheets about 1 1/2"  apart. Bake 10 minutes. Do not let them brown, just puff up.  (Put them in a tin; they're best served warmed up in a toaster oven.)

These are meringue cookies covered by pieces of chocolate and nuts. It's what to do with all the egg whites when so many cake, cupcake, pudding and cookie recipes call only for the yolks. Yes, white trash cookies!
 Makes 30-35 cookies
2 c unblanched almond slivers
3 egg whites at room temperature
3/4 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground cloves
3 oz semi sweet chocolate, cut into thin shreds and bits

Heat oven to 350º. Butter or line several rimmed baking sheets and spread the slivered almonds out them. Toast in the oven 5 minutes or until they are lightly browned. Cool.

Put the egg whites in a large beater bowl and beat them on low until foamy. Slowly increase beater speed and beat them into soft peaks. By spoonfuls add the vanilla and keep beating so the egg white thicken. Slowly add the vanilla and spices while beating and continue beating until the mixture is very thick. Using a wire whisk, carefully fold in the chocolate and toasted almonds.
   Drop a heaping teaspoon of batter, using a second spoon, on the prepared baking sheet. Allow 2" between each "nest." When the baking sheets are full, bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes. Immediately remove them and remove them with a spatula to a wire rack to cool.  When cold, pack in airtight containers. 

makes about 30 large cookies
 or the dough
2 1/2 c unbleached white flour
3/4 c sugar
2 sticks (1 c) unsalted butter
1 egg yolk
pinch of salt
grated peel of 1/2 lemon

This dough is best made in a heavy duty mixer with a flat beater. Put in the flour, make a well, add the sugar. Add the yolk on top. Cut the butter into 1" pieces and spread them around the sloping sides of the well opening. Add the lemon peel and salt. With the mixer on lowest setting, turn it off and on quickly a few times to get the flour moistened. Then run it on slow through mealy stage into larger lumps. It's done when a ball forms around the beater. Take it off, press it into a smooth ball, wrap this in wax paper and chill for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator.

Heat oven to 375º. Line several baking sheets with parchment or silicon or butter them thoroughly.
Cut the dough in half and leave one half in the refrigerator. Flour a working surface and using your knuckles knead the dough down into a flat circle on it--quickly so it stays cold. Roll the dough out to be 1/8" thick. With a 2 1/2" round cutter (scalloped edges make these cookies fancier), cut as many cookies as you can, placing them on a baking sheet as you go. Prick each with a fork several times.
   Roll out the second half of the dough the same way.  Cut cookies as before BUT now, using a 1" or 1 1/4" cutter, cut the center out of them to make a ring.   Roll the cut out dough and make more cookies. You want the same number of ring tops as solid bottoms.  Prick the rings with a fork twice.
   Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes or until pale golden and crisp. Immediately remove from the baking sheet and put on a wire rack to cool

for the filling: 3/4 c raspberry or strawberry preserves
1/4 c confectioners sugar
(the red feels very Christmasy but you can use apricot preserves which are more traditional)
Spread a thin layer of the preserves on the whole cookie. Put a ring cookie on top, Carefully dust it with confectioners sugar. Then fill the ring up with more preserves.
Store these cookies in an airtight tin in a cool place. 

Quick refrigerated yummies to present in a jar:
Tomatoes don't taste that good right now so this makes them much better--and far tastier than the commercial product at salad and antipasto bars.
There's no real precise formula here so make as much as you want by doubling or tripling this.
3 medium ripe tomatoes
1 clove garlic, through a press
sea salt
2 tbsp olive oil and 1/4-1/3 c more for storage

Heat the oven or toaster oven to 325º. Slice the tomatoes about 1/8" thick. Lay them on a baking sheet. (You can line it with parchment or tin foil to avoid cleaning it later.) Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Distribute the garlic evenly over the tomatoes. Sprinkle the olive oil over them. Roast 45-60 minutes or just until they start to brown at the edges. Remove from the oven, put in a jar and add enough olive oil to come about 1/2-2/3 of the way to the top of them.  Store in the refrigerator. These should last about 2-3 weeks.
They're great on bruschetta with goat cheese, terrific with scrambled eggs and roasted meat

Combine all this in a heavy stock or soup pot:
1/2 c olive oil

1.2 c dry white wine
1 tbsp thyme leaves
1 tbsp dried tarragon leaves
dash of red wine vinegar
1/4 c raisins
1 tsp black peppercorns
pinch of salt
1 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 doz pearl onions, peeled
12 oz fresh button or crimini mushrooms, washed

Add enough water to just barely cover these ingredients. Then stir in 3 tbsp tomato paste.
Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 5 minutes. Cool. Pack in jars and refrigerate. Good for a few days.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Kale Kale the gang's all here

Since it's the season where doorways, hallways and living rooms are decorated with greens, it's time to pull out the kale to keep the kitchen green. Kale is, after all, an ancient cold weather vegetable, a great source of sunshine on dark days. Cheap too. And it comes in several colors without or with curls.  So cozy up to some great kale recipes:

Steamed Clams with Fregola and Kale
If you can't find fregola, the tiny toasted Sardinian pasta balls, use their cousin Israeli couscous.
This should feed 4-6.

1 lb fregola
Juice of 3 lemons
1½ tbsp cold butter, cut into ¾” cubes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 pinch chilli flakes
1 c white wine
2¼lbs (1 kg) clams, scrubbed clean (discard any with open or damaged shells)
¾ lb kale, leaves pulled of the stems and finely chopped
1 handful parsley leaves, finely chopped

Bring a pan of salted water to a boil and cook the fregola, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick together, until al dente – about 12-15 minutes. Drain when cooked.
While the fregola cooks, put the lemon juice into a small saucepan and warm it up gently over a medium-low heat. Once warm, but not boiling, turn the heat to low and whisk in the butter, a couple of cubes at a time, stirring continuously until all of it has been incorporated. The mixture should now be the consistency of cream. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm over a very low heat (or over a bain-marie).
Heat a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan on a medium flame, then fry the oil, garlic and chili flakes until the garlic just starts to color and smell fragrant. Pour in the wine, turn up the heat to high and leave to bubble for a minute or two, until the alcohol cooks off and the sauce reduces by half. Add the clams to the pot, sit the kale on top, cover the pan and cook for two minutes. Stir, then put back the lid and cook for another one to two minutes, until the clams have opened and the kale has wilted.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the clams and kale to warmed, shallow bowls, then return the pan with the cooking liquor to the heat and tip in the fregola. Stir it in briefly, just until the fregola has warmed through, then spoon over the clams with the cooking liquid. Dress with the warm, buttery lemon sauce, sprinkle with parsley and serve (discard any clams that do not open).

Warm Kale Salad with Coconut
Serves 4
cherry tomatoes 400g
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
olive oil,
a drizzle
2 limes
1 bunch (about ¾ lb) green or purple kale 1 head (about 200g), stalks removed, leaves roughly torn into bite-size pieces
¼ c unsweetened shaved or desiccated coconut
1 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
 For the dressing
1” fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped
1 tbsp white miso paste
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp coconut or olive oil
1 red chlli, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400º. Halve the tomatoes and place them on a baking tray with some salt and pepper, a good drizzle of olive oil, the zest of both limes and the juice of 1. Roast for 10 minutes. Pile on them the kale and coconut. Pour over the soy sauce and toss well until everything is coated. Roast in the oven with the tomatoes for 10 minutes, until crisp.
Mix all the dressing ingredients in a bowl with the juice of the second lime. Taste and add a little more seasoning or lime juice if needed, letting your taste buds guide you – remember the dressing will be less punchy once it hits the salad.
Pull the kale and tomatoes out of the oven and tumble them into a big bowl. Toss in the miso dressing, adding a little at a time and tasting as you go, and serve still warm.

Kale Gratin 
serves 4-6
Enough extra-virgin olive or butter to generously cover the bottom of a large pan
3 medium onions, halved and sliced thin
3 bunches of kale, you can mix the different kinds
4 cloves of garlic, smashed, peeled, and minced
Sea salt
1 pint heavy cream
4 ounces grated cheese, such as Parmigiano-Reggiano or Gruyère
Plenty of freshly ground black pepper

Place a large heavy-bottom pot over low-medium heat, add the onions, and let them sauté, stirring occasionally, until they are very soft.
Meanwhile, prep the greens. Remove the stems that run down the center by holding the leaf in one left hand and slicing down each side of the stem with a knife. By the time you're done, you'll have two piles: one of stems and one of leaves. Bunch the stems in a pile and slice them finely, crosswise. Set aside. Now chop the kale leaves and set them aside, too. The point of separating them is to give the stems a head start cooking, as they take a little longer.
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Now the onions should be soft. Add the chopped garlic and stir for a minute or so, until it has released its fragrance. Add the chopped stems and a pinch of salt, stir to mix them with the onions and garlic, and cover the pot. Let them cook for about five minutes, stirring occasionally. Now add the greens and another pinch of salt, using tongs to carefully mix in with the sautéed veggies in the pan. Add about a half cup of water (or stock) to the pan, and turn heat to high until the water begins to boil. When it does, turn heat down a little bit, and let the greens simmer, covered, stirring occasionally until they're nearly tender but still a little al dente. At that point, remove the lid and let them cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid in the pan has evaporated.
Turn off the heat, taste, and add a little salt if necessary. Arrange the cooked kale in a casserole dish large enough to comfortably fit them all. Pour the cream over. Sprinkle the cheese all over the top. Give it a vigorous lashing of black pepper. Bake until the top is well-browned (30-45  minutes). Serve hot. 
*This dish can be made a day or two in advance and reheated in a 350 F oven just before serving. Better yet, cook kale until they're tender and then store them in the fridge until the big day, when you bake them off with cream, cheese, etc.  Vegan variation: Replace the cream with coconut milk and replace the cheese with bread crumbs (or slivered almonds) .

Kale, Sausage and Black-eyed Pea Soup
This is a very hearty meal in a bowl for 6

¼ c olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp dried thyme
½ tsp smoked Spanish paprika
2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried sage
¼ tsp crushed chili peppers
1 lb Kielbasa or mildly hot Italian sausage, sliced into ¼” disks*
15 oz (1 can) chopped tomatoes and juice
1 bunch Lacinto/Tuscan Kale, stems removed, greens cut into bite-sized pieces
4 c chicken broth*
3 c water
1 cup brown lentils
1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, cut into cubes
1 14 oz can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp sherry vinegar (don’t worry if you don’t have any)

In a medium stockpot, heat the oil. Add onion and garlic and sauté 3 minutes. Add spices. Stir and sauté 30 seconds. Add sausage, stirring to blend. Sauté 3-5 minutes until onions are soft and sausage starts to brown.

Add tomatoes and stir to blend. Cook 30-60 seconds. Add kale, lentils, broth and water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer 30 minutes. Add potatoes, black-eyed peas and salt.  Cook another 15 minutes.
Add optional vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings and spices.

Serve with a green salad and crusty bread with butter or soft cheese.
If you are vegetarian, substitute 1 lb firm tofu, cut into cubes and fried in olive oil with a pinch of fennel or anise seed until brown and crisp. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

Yellow Split Peas with Cinnamon and Kale
This is one of the most popular dishes in Veggiyana, the Dharma of Cooking. It's seriously fragrant, outrageously nutritious, eye popping colorful and delicious. Plus it goes with everything.
Serves 6

2 cups yellow split peas, cleaned
1 bunch Tuscan kale, chopped (thick stem removed)
1 lg. cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
5 cloves
1 tsp. cumin seed
½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground cardamom
½ inch fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. turmeric
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 medium red onion, diced
2 tbsp. olive oil or ghee if you prefer
5 cups water
½ bunch fresh cilantro for garnish

Bring water to boil in a large saucepan or medium casserole.
Add split peas, turmeric, cinnamon stick and half the salt (1 tsp.). Cook covered for one hour, checking that there is always some water in the pot.)

While the peas cook, heat the oil or ghee in a medium-sized frying or sauté pan. Over medium heat, fry the bay leaves, cumin seeds and cloves for one minute. Add the onion, ginger and garlic and cook until the onions lightly brown, stirring to blend. Stir in the kale and 1 tsp salt. Continue cooking until the kale is glistening and soft.  Remove the bay leaves from the pot. 
Add the contents of the fry pan to the split peas. Add the ground cardamom, cumin and black pepper, stirring to blend. Taste for seasonings and adjust to your preference.

Continue cooking until the peas are soft, adding water if necessary.  Some people prefer this soupy and others on the dry side.

KALE STUFFING for turkey breast, pork, kabocha squash or turnovers

1 lb kale, washed & chopped 
2 tbsp olive oil 
¼ lb spinach or chard, washed & chopped
1/8 tsp ground cloves 
1 lg onion, chopped 
3 tbsp coconut cream 
2 tbsp butter
3/4cup cottage or ricotta cheese 
¼ lb brown button mushrooms, chopped 
Salt and fresh ground black pepper 
1/2 tsp ground chili powder 
¼ lb sausage or smoked ham, diced*
Melt butter in a large skillet and brown mushrooms with cloves 3 minutes. Add sausage or ham and lightly brown 2-3 minutes. Pour into a work bowl. Heat oil in the skillet and cook onions with chili over medium low heat until soft. Add kale and spinach, increase heat and evaporate moisture on the greens. Reduce heat and simmer until kale is tender, 3-5 minutes. Blend in coconut cream. Add to the mushrooms. Stir in cheese, salt and pepper. Rub the surface of what you are stuffing with softened butter and pile this in to roast or bake.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Giving thanks for the farmers' harvest

The authentic American Thanksgiving was celebrated, as the Canadian still is, in mid October, which is the end of the New England harvest season. So a genuine Thanksgiving should celebrate the bounty of the New World. Most of it comes from the surprisingly vast array of new foods the original arrivals found on our shores, foods we take for granted today.  But the list of New World foods whose discovery began with Columbus is important and impressive enough to be endlessly repeated. Here's what I remember of it:

Beans (black, kidney, cranberry, pinto, lima--essentially everything but the fava, black-eyed pea which came from Africa and chickpea native to southern Turkey)
Chili peppers (all of them)
Chocolate (cacao beans were the sacred food of the Aztecs)
Cod fish, and by extension, salt cod
Corn (all of it)
Jerusalem artichokes (this is what deChamplain mistakenly called the root of the sunflower)
Lobster (the large two clawed kind from Maine)
Maple syrup
Molasses and by extension rum
Potatoes (all of them)
Pumpkins and ALL winter squash
Soft shell crabs and clams as in New England clam chowder
Tomatoes (all of them)
Turkey (it was a northern wild bird)
Wild rice (it's actually not a rice grain)
Vanilla (from rare Mexican orchids)

Just that much makes for a mighty powerful dinner party ingredient list showcasing what we have to be thankful for. and be thankful not everything homegrown is a racist, misogynist Nazi or prim southern white woman so pluperfect she can egomanically impose her personal agenda on everybody else.

The first American thankful also celebrated the abundance of somewhat familiar foods: oysters, duck and venison. So feel free to serve those with or instead of turkey. There is a lot of fabulous oyster farming going on in Maine waters right now. and hunting season is everywhere so deer are being harvested.

A few ideas for incorporating the all-American bounty into your celebration meal:
*Corn pudding (the arriving English converted everything into a pudding) recipe posted under Corn in late summer
*Clam Chowder: with potatoes, colorful peppers and corn--how all-American is that!
*Brandade or salt cod fritters (Brandade recipe posted last year)
**Wild Rice with cranberries and pecans
**Black bean chili (recipe in Veggiyana, the Dharma of Cooking)
**Cornmeal pancakes with maple syrup 
*Lobster pie (whatever the early English didn't put into pudding they wrapped in dough as pie)
*Roasted red, white and blue baby potatoes
"Squash stuffed with tomatoes, chili pepper and lima beans
*Chocolate Fudge Cake (flourless to be authentic here)
*Indian Pudding (molasses and cornmeal)
**together make a perfectly all-American celebratory vegetarian meal

and oh yes, one last thought: you can barbecue that turkey, slathered in your favorite BBQ sauce.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

More on those chic peas, everybody's comfort food

I had planned to feature kale this week because all its forms are so prevalent in farmers' markets right now, but since Wednesday morning, I've had the feeling nobody wants to be told to "eat their spinach." Kale has unfortunately become one of the foods the affluent and arrogant lord over the McDonald's crowd to prove their moral superiority and eliteness. So back to the humble chickpea, that little black dress of the kitchen. It fits everybody's needs: it's cheap, it's nutritious, it's tasty, it's worldly, it's filling, it's vegan and it goes with just about everything that isn't dessert. Maybe a few more chickpea recipes are what we all need to feel right again.

Braised Butternut Squash with Chickpeas
serves 4

1/4 c olive oil
2-3 shallots, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tsp ground cumin
4 whole cardamom pods, crushed to release the seeds, pods discarded
Salt and black pepper
2½ tbsp harissa paste
½ tsp rose water
2 c + 2 tbsp vegetable stock
1 large butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1 1/2" pieces
1 2/3 c canned cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed
7 dried apricots, thinly sliced
1 lemon skin, roughly chopped
2 tsp cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
2/3 c Greek yogurt
Heat the oven to 425º. In a large lidded sauté pan heat two tbsp. oil on a medium-high. Add the shallots and fry 7-8 minutes, stirring every so often, until they’re soft and caramelized. Stir in the garlic, spices, half a tsp salt and plenty of pepper, and fry for two minutes more. Add the harissa, rose water, stock and 1 c water, bring to a boil. Add the squash chunks in a single flat layer. Lower heat to medium, cover the pan and simmer 10 minutes, until it is almost cooked through.
Take the pan off the heat and with a slotted spoon, transfer the squash to a medium bowl. Add two tbsp. oil, ¼ tsp salt and some pepper to the bowl. Mix to coat the squash, then spread the squash on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast at 450º 20 minutes, until golden-brown and thoroughly cooked. Cool.
While the squash is roasting, tip chickpeas, apricots and lemon into the stock left in the sauté pan. Bring to a boil on medium-high heat and cook for about 12 minutes, until the sauce reduces a little and becomes thick and rich. While cooking, crush a few chickpeas with the back of a spoon, to thicken the mix more.

To serve, line the bottom of a shallow serving dish with ¾ of the squash. Spoon the chickpea sauce over it. Top with the rest of the squash, sprinkle with the chopped cilantro and serve at once with yogurt. For a total vegetarian meal serve with rice.

Greek Cinnamon Spiced Chickpeas with Brown Rice and Feta
This soup is one of my most favorite comfort foods ever. Everybody loves the flavor combo.
from Rhodes for 6

½ c top quality olive oil

1 lg onion, minced

½ c dry white wine
2 tsp Aleppo pepper*
6 c hearty vegetable or chicken broth and or water
1 15/6 oz. can chickpeas, drained (you need 2 cups)
1 c chopped boxed or canned tomatoes
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried oregano
1 c short grain brown rice
Salt to your taste
½ c crumbled feta cheese
½ bunch flat leaf parsley minced for garnish
Optional: dried mint leaves for extra flavor and garnish

*Ground Aleppo pepper is a moderately hot Syrian chili. Substitutes would be ground chipotle pepper or 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes.
NB: do not use Basmati or any other long grain rice. Short grain rice is for soaking up flavors and you need that here.

In a medium heavy pot, heat olive oil, add onion and sauté over medium heat until soft and translucent, 8-10 minutes. Stir in wine and Aleppo or other hot pepper alternative. Raise heat and cook briskly 45-60 seconds until most liquid is gone.
Add 2 cups broth, chickpeas, tomatoes, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and oregano. Bring to simmering, cover and cook on low heat 10 minutes. Stir in the rice and 2 cups broth. Cook until rice is tender, about 45 minutes.
Season with salt. Remove cinnamon stick and bay leaf. Stir in feta, cover, remove from heat and let stand 10 minutes. Serve in bowls garnished with minced parsley. Optionally you can double garnish with pinches of fresh mint.

Uzbek Chickpea Salad with Sourcream
serves 4

3 turnips
1 white onion
2 carrots
10 oz chickpeas
1/4cup sour cream
fresh chopped dill to taste

Clean and boil the turnips and carrots. Drain to cool. Cube the turnips and carrots into pieces about the size of the chickpeas. Dice the onion. Combine all the vegetables in a large bowl. Add sour cream, salt, fresh dill and mix well.

Crunchy Chickpea Snack
for at least 4
2 large cans chickpeas
1 cup corn oil
1 tbsp lemon zest, in strips
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tsp coarse salt to taste
4 cloves of garlic, sliced

Drain chickpeas and set on paper towels over a colander to dry thoroughly (can be done 1 day in advance). They must be absolutely dry.
Heat oil in large cast iron pan until it bubbles around 1 chickpea. Add lemon zest, thyme sprig, and chickpeas in batches to not crowd the pan. Fry 5 minutes or until chickpeas are crunchy and their color has darkened. Remove from oil, drain well. Add garlic to the pan and fry till golden. Remove and drain. Toss chickpeas with the garlic, smoked paprika & salt. Serve warm.

Moroccan Cassoulet (Chickpeas with lamb three ways)
This is a dazzling party dish that takes some fussing and time, but it's actually easy every step of the way.
serves 8
1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp turmeric
2 lamb neck fillets (around 1½ lbs), cut into ¾” slices
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
½ bunch coriander, leaves and stalks separated, both finely chopped
1 2/3c canned plum tomatoes, drained
1 cinnamon stick
5 c canned chickpeas (3 15oz cans), drained and rinsed

For the meatballs
1 garlic clove
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 ¼ lb ground lamb (go over not under on the amount)
For the breadcrumbs
1 c fresh breadcrumbs
2 tbsp harissa
1 tbsp olive oil
To finish
2 tbsp olive oil
6-8 merguez or other lamb sausages

A squeeze of lemon, to taste
Harissa, to serve
1 Preheat the oven to 350º. In a pestle and mortar or spice grinder, grind the cumin, coriander and peppercorns, then add to a mixing bowl along with the ginger, turmeric and a few generous pinches of salt. Add the lamb neck and rub the spices in well, then set aside.
2 In a large casserole, warm up the oil over a medium-low heat and add the onions, garlic, chopped coriander stalks and pinch of salt. Leave to soften, stirring occasionally, for around 8 minutes.
3 Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir in the lamb neck and accompanying spices. Add the plum tomatoes and cinnamon stick, then pour in enough water to not quite cover the meat. Put a lid on top, then put in the oven for 60 minutes, stirring in the chickpeas after 35 minutes.
4 Meanwhile, prepare the meatballs. In a pestle and mortar, bash the garlic clove and a generous pinch of salt into a paste. Add the cumin and fennel seeds and crush them lightly. Scoop into a bowl and add the paprika, lamb mince and the chopped coriander leaves. Season generously, mix well with your hands, then shape into about 16 golfball-size spheres. Put in the fridge to firm up.
5 Meanwhile, mix the breadcrumbs with the harissa and oil and put to one side.

6 Put a frying pan over a high heat and add 1 tbsp of oil. Brown the meatballs briefly, just to get a bit of colour on the outside, then do the same for the sausages.
7 Remove the pan from the oven and check that the lamb neck is soft (return to the oven if not). Taste the chickpeas and adjust the seasoning if necessary. At this stage, you can skim away a little lamb fat if you want. Squeeze in a little lemon and push the meatballs and the sausages into the liquid, adding a little more water if it appears dry. Sprinkle over a thick layer of breadcrumbs, then drizzle over the final tbsp of oil before placing in the oven for 30-45 minutes, or until the breadcrumbs are crisp.
8 Remove the dish from the oven and leave for 10 minutes, so that all the juices can be soaked up by the chickpeas. Serve with a green salad and a little extra harissa, if you like.

Nepali Chickpea Curry
 serves 4-6

5 cups cooked or canned Chickpeas/Garbanzo beans, drained but keep the cooking liquid*
2 cups chopped Tomatoes
Sunflower, Canola, Mustard or Corn Oil
1 large or 2 medium Onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1” fresh Ginger, peeled and grated
1 tsp. turmeric
1 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
Salt to taste
½ tsp Arbol chili powder
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh Cilantro leaves, chopped

*To be very authentic, soak dried chickpeas in water overnight, then boil in a pressure cooker, with sufficient water for two whistles. Or boil until soft but retaining the shape. Or to do this quickly, use canned garbanzo beans, drained but have vegetable broth handy.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium high. When it’s very hot, fry the onions and garlic until the onion pieces become translucent. Add grated ginger and cook a few minutes. Add the turmeric, garam masala, cumin, coriander, and salt to your taste. Stir and cook about 2 minutes. Add chickpeas and tomatoes. Stir to blend.
Add some of the cooking juices from the chickpeas or vegetable broth so nothing burns. Cook about 3
minutes, until tomatoes are incorporated. Add 1 cup liquid again. Let everything simmer 10 minutes until juices are reduced and the dish is not soupy. Add lemon juice and chopped cilantro. Season to taste and adjust if required.

Chickpeas with Cod and harissa
serves 2

1 lb skinless and boneless cod loin, cut into 1” pieces
2½ tbsp olive oil
½ tsp ground cumin
2 garlic cloves, peeled, 1 crushed, the other thinly sliced
½ medium onion, peeled and finely chopped
⅛ tsp ground cardamom
1 tbsp rose harissa (or regular harissa)
2 tsp tomato paste
1 small preserved lemon, finely chopped or zest of 1/2 lemon
1 15oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 c (scant) vegetable stock
handful of cilantro leaves, roughly chopped

Mix the cod with 1½ tsp olive oil, ¼ tsp cumin, the crushed garlic and a pinch of salt. Marinate 30 min.
Heat the remaining 2 tbsp. oil in a large sauté pan on medium-high flame. Once hot, fry the onion 4-5 minutes, stirring often, until soft and golden brown. Reduce heat to medium, add the sliced garlic and stir for a minute, then add remaining cumin, the cardamom, harissa, tomato paste, lemon, chickpeas and ¼ tsp. salt. Stir for a minute, pour in the stock and cook 3-4 minutes, crushing some of the chickpeas with the back of the spoon, until the sauce is thick. Add the fish to the pot and poach for 3-4 minutes, gently turning it over halfway, until cooked through and starting to flake apart. Stir in the cilantro. Spoon into a shallow bowl and serve hot.