There is a white pomegranate tree on the property that has been teasing me for the last year. But finally it is dripping with fruit, and I’ve managed to salvage some from the birds. Here is a simple salad I made as a welcome treat for some friends that came to visit over the weekend. We ate it outside on the patio with focaccia and some cold beers.
It’s been a rough couple weeks y’all. But a comforting bowl of warm soup goes a long way towards soothing most ailments, physical and emotional. I think my Italian peasant foremothers would approve of this simple dish.
I’m trying to work my way through the little half-finished jars of condiments and fermentation experiments in my fridge. When I pickle veggies with garlic cloves (which is most of the time), I like to save all the garlic covered in brine. It’s like a much better version of pre-peeled garlic. I used one whole jar of pickled garlic cloves for this soup (about 30 cloves). If that sounds scary to you, feel free to reduce. But know that the slow boil mellows out the garlic flavor significantly. Raw garlic cloves are totally fine if you don’t have any pickled ones handy.
- olive oil
- 8-12 cups of stock (or salted water with a generous pour of white wine)
- 1-2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked in plenty of water for 12-24 hours
- 20-30 peeled garlic cloves (if you got pickled, that’s great!)
- 1/2 an onion, chopped
- 3-4 celery stalks, chopped (throw is a carrot or two if you want)
- 2 big pinches of fennel seed
- 1 big pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and pepper to taste
- about 1 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley and basil (add a bit of rosemary, oregano, and/or sage if desired)
- optional: freshly grated parmesan
- In a pot over medium heat, add one or two healthy glugs of olive oil. Saute onions and celery for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft and golden.
- Add fennel seed, red pepper flakes, and garlic cloves and saute for another minute or two.
- Drain chickpeas (which have been soaking in water on the counter overnight), rinse, and add to pot along with stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow contents to gently simmer for one or two hours. If liquid is evaporating too fast, add in more water and turn down the heat. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Perhaps add honey, vinegar, or miso, if that’s what it needs. The soup is ready when chickpeas and garlic are soft and the flavor is deep and rich.
- Right before serving, stir in herbs. Grate parmesan on top. Serve with crusty bread if possible.
My work involves cooking elaborate meals for other people. So when I’m feeding myself, I tend to keep it simple. An apple with peanut butter is a common dinner; as is toast with hummus. I feel confident saying that my hummus recipe is flipping fabulous. I make a big batch every so often, portion it out into smaller containers and freeze, and then defrost as needed.
- food processor
- 1 cup dried chickpeas
- ⅓ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup tahini (I like the brand Alkanater)
- 2-3 garlic cloves
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Spices, fresh herbs, preserved citrus to taste (optional)
- Soak chickpeas the night before making the hummus. Cover with double or triple the amount of water, as they will grow in size.
- The next day, drain and rinse the chickpeas. Cover with fresh water at least 2 inches above the top of the beans. Throw in a small palmful of salt and bring to a boil. Cook until the chickpeas are super soft — about 45 minutes. Soft, almost mushy beans produce a lovely smooth textured-hummus.
- Drain chickpeas and place them in a food processor or powerful blender (Vitamix, Ninja, etc) with the other ingredients and blend. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. The hummus should be very smooth. If not, throw in a splash of water. Or if you’re a fan of chunky hummus, which is perfectly legitimate, blend until happy with the consistency.
Back when I lived in London and also stayed up past 10 p.m. — before I’d board the long night bus back to my flat — I ended many a night out at the kebab shop. Nothing is more satisfying than a warm pita filled with hummus and falafel and pickles, dripping in yogurt and tahini and hot sauce. Especially at three in the morning. When feeling a little bit tipsy. After having just burnt a jillion calories on the dance floor. Don’t you want some falafel right now? Well pitter patter.
- 2 cups dry chickpeas
- 1 cup fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, garlic chives, scallions, mint)
- ¼ of an onion
- A few garlic cloves
- ¼ cup chickpea flour (all-purpose flour also does the trick)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- Freshly ground pepper
- Neutral oil for frying
- Soak chickpeas overnight in triple the amount of water (six-ish cups). Drain and rinse before use.
- In a food processor, blend herbs, onion, and garlic until minced. Add remaining ingredients besides the oil and process until everything is well-combined into a rough paste.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment. Smoosh and roll the mixture into ping pong-sized balls to form the falafel. Place on parchment and freeze for at last 30 minutes, or until ready to fry.
- On medium-high heat, fill a small saucepan with at least three inches of oil. A smaller surface area means less oil.*** Be patient and let it heat up sufficiently. When dropping the falafel in the oil, it should immediately begin to sizzle. Fry falafel in batches (don’t overcrowd the oil) until golden brown.
- Serve with whatever delicious fixins your heart desires!
This recipe is a mashup of two different recipes by deli counter artiste and king of my heart, Yotam Ottolenghi. If you’re looking to bulk up your cookbook collection, start with one of his exquisite tomes like Plenty or Sweet.
You’ll see I’m not too keen on exact measurements. And that’s because they’re a waste of time, and they’ll hold you back from learning the ropes, trusting your senses, and cooking with confidence.
Obviously if you’re cooking for yourself you shouldn’t use 20 eggplants and 1 whole head of garlic. Didn’t add enough salt or vinegar? Taste it and add more! Start with conservative quantities, especially of condiments and spices, and continuously taste as you go. And if you do use a bit too much of something, A. it’s probably not inedible and B. what a great learning opportunity to think critically, develop your sense of taste, and adapt for next time!
1 or 2 cups chickpeas (dried or canned, also known as garbanzo beans)
- 1 ripe mango, cut into smallish chunks
- 1 small eggplant (or maybe half of a big one)
- ¼ onion
- a handful of some fresh, bright herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, and chives
- Whatever salad greens seem nice (lettuce, arugula, kale, collards)
- A few cloves of garlic, minced
- lemon juice
- olive oil
- curry powder (link to make your own below!)
- maybe some seeds and nuts to top, like black sesame and pistachios!
- If using canned chickpeas, simply drain and rinse all the goo off. It tastes gross in my opinion.
- If using dried chickpeas, soak them in water the night before you plan to use them. Make sure there is enough space in the container and water for them to expand to two or three times their size and still be covered in water. Add a palmful of salt, swish it all around, loosely cover and leave out on the counter. Skip this step at your peril! Soaking the chickpeas helps breakdown some of the harder-to-digest carbohydrates, relieving pressure on your gut and significantly decreasing farting!
- To cook, drain and rinse your chickpeas, throw them in a pot with plenty of water, maybe a bit more salt if you weren’t generous enough last night, and bring it to a boil. Cook until chickpeas are soft but not mushy, maybe 45 minutes. Just keep tasting. You’ll know when they’re done. You can also do this in a pressure cooker much faster! 10 minutes on high pressure. Drain your chickpeas and let them cool on the counter.
- Preheat oven to 375F.
- Chop up your eggplant into chunks. Don’t worry about all that jazz with salting it and letting it sit in a colander for hours to sweat. Modern varieties of eggplant have had the bitterness bred out of them, so unless you’re time traveling, this shouldn’t be necessary. Just toss the eggplant with plenty of salt and lots of olive oil; like more olive oil than you think seems correct. There should be a thin but noticeable coating on the bottom of the pan.
- Roast in the oven until the eggplant are super duper soft, about 30 minutes.
the Everything Else:
- Thinly slice your onion and let the pieces sit in lemon juice for 15 minutes or so. It takes away the bite.
- Roughly chop your herbs. Be sure to include the stems of parsley and cilantro, unless they are very woody.
- Combine chickpeas, mango, eggplant, herbs, greens, onions and garlic, and seeds or nuts in a bowl. Splash on a couple glugs of olive oil, the onion-y lemon juice, two or three big (use all five fingers) pinches of curry powder (here's a link to make your own!), and mix. Add salt too. Enough so that the food tastes bright and exciting and zings on your tongue. Maybe start with a small palmful and go from there.