Posts Tagged ‘Chickpeas’
I haven’t really been feeling like meat lately. I’ve never been a vegetarian before and I highly doubt that I will ever become one, but it’s funny how I can go weeks without preparing meat in my home or even ordering it at restaurants. It’s probably even sillier how this has come about in the dead of winter, when all people can go on about are “rib-sticking,” hearty meals. You know, the ones with meat. Sure, there’s the cost and convenience part (vegetables and grains are very cheap and they aren’t going to poison you no matter how you cook them), but I think most of all it’s just my mood lately.
And yes, I think it has something to do with that winter mood I’ve gotten in the past week or two. I’ve been walking a lot lately, more and more each day just to listen to music or hear the news. (And, I have to say, I just got this little app on my phone that tracks how many steps I take each day and I have gotten very personally competitive with increasing the amount every day. I’m not ambitious or competitive in any means when it comes to grand-scheme-of-life things, but if it’s a tedious, absolutely useless thing that has no real implications on my life, I get pretty into it. Rationality has never been a strength of mine.) After I get home from walking a very long route from my school’s campus, I feel like cooking, but those heavy meals give me no appetite. So turn to soup.
I ended up on Smitten Kitchen’s carrot soup with crisped chickpeas, tahini, and crisped wedges of pita with za’atar. Simply because have you seen the ingredient list for that soup? It’s simple, really simple, and that really appealed to me at the time. But as Deb even admits in her post, the soup, good and nourishing though it is, is not of the most dynamic kind. That’s quite alright though, in part because I don’t think every meal can be a revolution, but more importantly because what goes on or with the soup more than makes up for it.
There’s the spiced, slightly-crunchy chickpeas, that get roasted in the oven with some olive oil, a hefty couple pinches of salt, and some spices. Deb calls for cumin; I used garham masala just because it includes cumin, is delicious, and I have way too much of it (I think it was a good call). I think the idea of using them in place of croutons is pretty genius—I love croutons or something crunchy to contrast smooth soups, and using chickpeas adds a dimension I probably would have never thought of. Then there’s the tahini drizzle, which is the basic, all-purpose sauce of tahini, lemon and a little bit of water. It’s awesome on this soup. I dolloped some full-fat yogurt on the first bowl of soup I had but thereafter quickly realized: tahini sauce > yogurt, at least on this soup. And! Let us not forget the wedges of pita, baked with olive oil and za’atar until crunchy. I used them to scoop up piles of the soup and chickpeas, but they can also be crumbled over the top to form a type of crouton. When it comes to the garnishes, it all goes and they’re all good.
I think these garnishes are a nice reminder that any meal can become special by the addition of a few thoughtful details. Because although I haven’t been into heavy meals, I have been into flavor. And obviously not like duck-fat flavor, but like tangy-sour-bitter-sweet-texture flavor. (Perhaps this is why I have been particularly inspired by Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s Jerusalem lately.)
To get the recipe for the carrot soup and all the garnishes, I’ll just direct you over to the original recipe. Deb does a really nice job of organizing the recipe, much better than I could, into making everything from start to finish in about 45 minutes to an hour. But! One thing I would urge you to do is really layer the olive oil and za’atar on the pitas. She calls for it sprinkled on the pitas, but the middle eastern restaurant I go to makes a paste of the oil and spice mixture, and spreads it on thick. I didn’t do that, but I definitely had a heavy hand with the za’atar. Do it; the spices taste great scooping up the soup.
One Year Ago: Challah
I haven’t meant to be so drawn to peasant food lately. Peasant food, as in that cauliflower soup I made awhile back, or that spaghetti with breadcrumbs and capers that I relied on for dinner a couple times last week. And now this… this so very obviously aesthetically-pleasing lentil soup. Really guys, this may perhaps be the ugliest thing I’ve ever made. It’s color is a murky green-brown and it’s got a sludgy texture. Sure, I can drop a dollop of yogurt on top and sprinkle over some sliced scallions to make it more photogenic, but there’s no getting around it. It’s ugly. Can we think of anything less appealing looking? Seriously—let me know if you’ve made or seen something that’s less tempting than the looks of this soup, because I’m at a loss.
Anyway, I first discovered this recipe in Bon Appetit nearly two years ago. I read the article by Molly Wizenberg that accompanied the recipe (that’s when I was still trying to figure out who she was—ha!), and was intrigued by how it sounded. So I proceeded to dog-ear the page and set it aside in my never-ending piles of magazines and books around my room. I was only reminded of it during one of my recent pre-bedtime reading sessions where I gather random food magazines and cookbooks, set them next to my bed, and graze through them until my eyes get sleepy. The timing of rediscovering the recipe was lucky, seeing as a I had a clear jar filled to the brim with French green lentils, waiting to be used up, and a quickly-emptying fridge, filled mostly with sad-looking things most likely past their date of wanting to be used up. Curried lentil soup it would be, then, for my dinner the next night.
And a very good dinner it made. I have to say, this is a pretty, pretty exciting recipe. Molly got it from Anson Klock, a chef from Seattle, who wanted a creamy and flavorful soup without using cream or too much butter. He got the idea to stir in some pureed chickpeas and voila! A rich, creamy soup that wasn’t weighed down by heavy dairy. I’ve heard of thickening soups with hummus, but was always a little irked and put off by the idea. With this soup, curried with a little bit of heat, it worked. A lot. With the addition of the puree, the soup thickened and melded, and the flavors came together. The puree couldn’t get rid of the murky color of the lentils, though. In fact, I think it might have worsened the soup in this regard—it just softened it from a deep green-brown to the dirty looking one you see in these pictures. But when we’re dealing with good, homely food like this, the interests of aesthetics are long gone by time the soup is ready to be eaten anyway.
Oh, and one more thing relating to this recipe: Molly asks that you puree the chickpeas, lemon, and garlic in a food processor while the lentils are simmering on the stove top. This is all fine, and the results were obviously great as I just gushed in the paragraph above, but it is a bit more complicated and time (not to mention dish) consuming than your regular throw-it-all-in-a-pot soup. That being said, I think cutting corners here is fine if you want to use pre-made or store-bought hummus. I know hummus is quite different in the fact that tahini is a very prominent flavor in it. However, in this soup, I don’t think a bit of tahini flavor would be too off-the-mark. Let me know if you try it this way.
One Year Ago: Cheesecake Brownies (and just in case you’re thinking: yes, they are as good as they sound)
As noted above, (I’m guessing) using hummus that you have on hand would be fine instead of making the chickpea puree fresh. If you’re going to follow this route, I would say to add in about 1 1/2 cups of hummus, or as much to your liking.
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium carrot, finely diced
2 large garlic cloves, minced, divided
2 tablespoons curry powder, or more for taste
1 cup French green lentils
4 cups vegetable broth
1 15-16 ounce can chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
plain yogurt, as a garnish
2 green onions, thinly sliced, as a garnish
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Toss in the onion and carrot with a couple good pinches of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 4 minutes. Add in half of the minced garlic and continue to cook the vegetables for about another 4 minutes, stirring regularly. Add 2 tablespoons of the curry powder and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the lentils and the 4 cups vegetable broth. Raise the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce down to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the chickpea puree. Puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the remaining minced garlic in a food processor until completely smooth, about 30 seconds.
Once the lentils are tender, add the chickpea puree and butter to the soup. Stir until blended, and taste for salt, pepper, and curry powder. Remove from heat and, if desired, add water by 1/4 cupfuls to thin the consistency to your liking (I liked mine thick and found that I didn’t want to loosen it up at all). Serve warm, sprinkling lemon juice, a dollop of plain yogurt, and sliced green onions.
After last week’s twenty-first-birthday-meets-exams-and-too-many-papers final days of the semester, I returned to Washington this past weekend to spend my last real summer vacation at home. (By the way, thanks to those of you who gave me nice birthday wishes, they were so kind.) I figure I might as well live off my parents now while I still can before I’m unleashed out into what is commonly referred to as the “real world” a year from now.
And I must admit, I am already happily settling into this summer at home. I’ve been cooking and baking enough to make up for (and then some) my lack of what we’ll call “culinary creativity” during my final few weeks at school, when an omelet filled with random vegetables and cheese made up my dinner just about every other night.
A lot of the things I had written down as things I would like to make this summer are from a Lebanese cookbook I got awhile back. This is, of course, affirming that I am still on that Middle Eastern cuisine kick, or at least a more specified, narrowed version of it. In fact, when I declared confidently this past weekend to my mom and sister that, “guys, Lebanese food is the best cuisine in the WORLD,” my sister didn’t even look back at me while saying, “oh my god that’s the third time I’ve heard that.”
Anyway, at the top of that list of things to make was hummus—but not just any type of hummus. I wanted hummus that was silky smooth, thick, and incredibly creamy. A hummus that wasn’t overpowered by the taste of garlic, but that was subdued and mild, save for a strong, clear presence of tahini.
This is, of course, the description of the hummus I’ve grown to love from a Lebanese-Greek restaurant in my town. I had always enjoyed making (and eating) hummus the way my mom taught me, but after tasting the hummus from that restaurant, hummus of my dreams!, I realized I had to figure out a way to make it at home.
After consulting and following this awesome post from Ruth Reichl, I produced the hummus shown here—yes, the very hummus of my dreams. It was exactly what I wanted, and I’m going to go ahead and say that judging by the way my mom and sister spooned it up on pita and vegetables, it was what they were wanting too even if they didn’t realize it at the time. I think that what makes this hummus special is that 1.) it requires garbanzo beans cooked from scratch. Not only is the flavor better, but the texture of freshly cooked beans is especially tender. Soaking the beans overnight in baking soda before cooking them ensures this tenderness. 2.) The skins from the cooked garbanzo beans are removed. A bit of a time intensive task, but c’mon? Who doesn’t love mindless, relaxing things like tending after a big bowl of garbanzo beans? And finally, 3.) Lots and lots of tahini. And no olive oil, save for the garnish. I thought this sounded a bit weird, but trust me! Watch your food processor whir away (basically) nothing but a pile of garbanzo beans and tahini into a velvety smooth paste. It’s awesome.
I realize that it would be a little unrealistic of me to believe that I am never going to make hummus another way again. After all, on those sunny summer afternoons when I want some homemade hummus to snack on, it would be most definitely impossible to produce overnight-soaked and freshly cooked and chilled beans out of thin air. That being said, I can assure you that given there is enough time in advance, it is this recipe for hummus that I’m going to turn to in the future. I understand also that everyone has their own preferences for hummus—some like it spicy with garlic, or chunky maybe. But if you want the hummus I described above—amazingly smooth, subdued in flavor with tahini taking center-stage—give this recipe a try.
I served mine in a shallow platter in order to get the largest amount of surface area I could for topping the hummus with good olive oil, toasted pine nuts, and sumac. I love eating it with warmed, toasted wedges of pita bread and some sliced vegetables like red bell peppers and carrots, but I have to tell you my absolutely favorite way of eating it is with big piles of tabbouleh on top. The bright, lemony parsley salad with the richly creamy hummus is an incredible combination. Now, tabbouleh, that is a recipe I need to conquer but haven’t yet. Anyone have any great recipe recommendations?
Adapted from Ruth Reichl
Makes about 4 cups
1 3/4 cups dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 tablespoon baking soda plus ¼ teaspoon baking soda
Scant 1/2 cup tahini paste
1 lemon, juiced, or more to taste
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or more to taste
pine nuts, toasted (optional)
sumac, paprika, cumin or zahtar (optional)
Rinse the garbanzo beans and discard any small stones or funny looking beans. Put them in a medium-large bowl with enough water to cover the beans by a few inches. Stir in a tablespoon of baking soda and let soak overnight. The baking soda allows for the beans to be extra tender once cooked.
Once soaked, drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and put them in a large pot with enough water to cover the beans by at least two inches. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda. (Don’t be tempted to add salt while they cook—this will only cause them to cook unevenly.) Bring the water to a boil, then turn down the heat to a low, steady simmer and cover. In the beginning of this process, white foam will gather at the surface of the water—this comes from gases being released by the beans while being cooked. Skim off the foam and continue to cook, covered, over low heat until the chickpeas are very soft. This should take about 1 1/2 hours. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.
Once slightly cooled, rub the garbanzo beans to remove the skins while rinsing them under cold running water. This is something of a time-consuming process, but it’s worth it. Once the skins have been removed, refrigerate the beans until ready to be made in the hummus. The coolness of the beans will translate into a smoother hummus later on.
Once cooled, Put the garbanzo beans, tahini, lemon juice, minced garlic, salt, and the reserved 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process for a good 3 or 4 minutes, until it is smooth and creamy. Reichl compares the texture to that of “just-made frozen custard.” Taste for salt and lemon juice. If the texture is too thick to your liking, add a few tablespoons or so of the reserved cooking liquid.
Top with a few good glugs of good olive oil, toasted pine nuts, or some spices like sumac, paprkia, cumin, or zahtar. Serve with toasted pita bread wedges.
I gave this little to-go container of the hummus to my sister so she could take it back up with her to Seattle. She said she’ll share it with her architecture department friends—apparently they love hummus but didn’t know it could be made from scratch. (What?!)
I almost wasn’t going to share this recipe with you. I’m not sure why, but I think I judged this dish even before I made it as one of those quick-healthy-easy things that would make a few good meals worth of leftovers. I guess I thought it would be too practical to share—you know, too useful, not showy or superfluous enough.
Of course, I sound crazy writing that all out now. Right? But at the time, it seemed perfectly rational to me. Rational in the I-find-superfluous-foods-the-only-ones-worth-making type of reasoning, of course. I only began to realize how silly that all sounded as I sat eating a bowl of the reheated chana punjabi, with this (real, I’m afraid to admit) conversation in my head:
“Mmmm! This is so good. I could eat this for days! But oh no, it’s almost gone, what will I do once I’ve run out? Well, I guess I’ll just have to make more. But wait… if I think it’s good enough to make again almost as soon as it’s gone, why was I so averse to the idea of blogging about it in the first place?”
Oh, and that’s when the thought that maybe I should share this came into my head. A little slow, but the realization came. And that is how, reader, we have simultaneously come to the current state of you seeing this post on your screen, and me realizing that maybe I shouldn’t be sharing how my thoughts operate on something so public as my own blog.
Anyway, back to what this should be all about: chana punjabi. As I mentioned in the beginning, this dish hits all the “practicality” measure points, for being simple and fast to make while still being as pretty healthy for you as it gets. And for such little effort and such a virtuous health profile, this thing just tastes good. The chickpeas are creamy-soft, and the subtly heated blend of garam masala, paprika and coriander complete the tomato-based background. Throw a dusting of chopped cilantro on top over a bowl of rice and it is a pretty perfect meal. What I’m trying to say is that it’s a winner, despite the fact that it’s not so superfluous. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe it’s because of that.
Adapted from Heather Carlucci-Rodriguez via The Wednesday Chef
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium cloves minced garlic
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 small Thai bird chili, chopped or 1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
14-ounce can of diced tomatoes, drained (or two large chopped tomatoes)
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt, or as needed
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas, drained and lightly rinsed
minced cilantro, for serving
cooked rice, for serving
Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chili (or jalepeno), and saute until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and a 1/4 cup of water. Cover saucepan and cook until the tomatoes are very soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Scoop the mixture into a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Return to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Combine to add the paprika, a teaspoon or so of salt, coriander, garam masala, tumeric and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add the chickpeas and allow the mixture to bring to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, reduce the heat to low so it gently simmers.
Cover the saucepan and simmer until the sauce is thick and the chickpeas are very soft, about 40 to 45 minutes, stirring the pan about every 10 minutes and adding water as needed (up to 1 1/2 cups) to prevent burning. When ready to serve, sauce should be thick. If necessary, uncover pan and allow sauce to reduce for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until it has become as thick as desired. Taste for salt and spices. Serve warm over rice and top with cilantro. And save some for leftovers, because they really are the best.