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.
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!
It’s still brutally hot here in southwest Florida. But with the start of the veggie-growing season, I can finally fight the heat with a favorite refreshing recipe — gazpacho. Gazpacho is a classy crowd-pleaser. Once comfortable with the tomato-cucumber variety, branch out! I love me a strawberry gazpacho or an almond-garlic-bread number. The world is your bowl of ice cold soup.
- An assortment of cucumbers and tomatoes, roughly chopped (poblano and bell peppers work too); enough to fill a blender about 2/3 up
- Half an onion, peeled
- A few cloves of garlic, peeled
- An assortment of fresh herbs of choice (cilantro, dill, mint, basil, parsley, chives, etc)
- Vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste
- Add all the herbs and veggies to the blender. Pour in a small handful of salt and a healthy glug or two of vinegar. Blend until happy with the consistency. Taste to determine if the gazpacho is acceptably zingy. Add more vinegar, salt, and pepper as needed.
- Feeling fancy? Top with chopped herbs and veggies, yogurt, and a swizzle of olive oil.
- food processor
- 2 cups fresh basil or other fresh herbs
- 2 tablespoons nuts or seeds (I like walnuts and pumpkin seeds)
- 2 cloves of garlic
- ½ cup strong, dry aged cheese like parmesan (For a vegan pesto, substitute nutritional yeast).
- Pinch of pepper
- ½ cup olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste'
- Blend all ingredients except for oil in food processor until smooth.
- Taste for flavor and consistency and adjust as needed. Don’t be afraid if it’s slightly salty, as the oil will mellow it out. Now add oil and blend. Serve fresh or store it in the fridge for a couple of days, smooshing some parchment paper into the top so that it doesn’t turn brown from contact with the air. The pesto also freezes well.
- Use this with pasta or as a base for a delicious sourdough pizza.