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Chickpea Sauté with Greek Yogurt

3 Apr

chickpea greek yogurt

I am a major fan of the Ottolenghi Plenty cookbook, given to me by Kara on my 30th bday. You may recall my glowing endorsement for the Soba w Eggplant and Mango, another recipe from that book. The thing about these recipes– they are simple–not too many indigents or tedious steps. But the ingredients they do use are – and at least to my mind – not so intuitive. For example, this recipe uses caraway seeds (caraway is that rye bread flavor). Like many of his recipes- this one finishes with mint, cilantro, and lemon, which imbues the dish with freshness. Also- flavoring the greek yogurt with olive oil, salt and pepper, epitomizes the simple cleverness of his recipes. The other thing i like about this dish- is its textural balance- the crunchiness of the carrots with the softer chickpeas etc

3/4 pounds swiss chard
1/3 cup olive oil, plus extra to finish
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 3/8 inch dice
1 tsp caraway seeds
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (or canned. i used a 15 oz can)
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt & pepper
1/2 cup greek yogurt + 1 tbsp olive oil

separate chard stalks and leaves. blanch stocks in boiling water for 3 mins. Add leaves, cook another 2 mins. Drain everything and run under cold water and squeeze dry, then roughly chop.

heat up the olive oil in large saute pan. add carrots and caraway seeds, and sauté for 5 mins on med heat. Add chard and chickpeas and continue to cook for 6 minutes. Now add garlic, herbs, lemon juice and some salt and pepper. remove from heat and cool down a little. taste and adjust seasoning.

to serve, mix yogurt, olive oil and some salt and pepper. pile vegetables on serve dishes and spoon yogurt on top. sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and drizzle over more olive oil.


Soba with Eggplant and Mango

11 Nov

soba eggplant mango

Dear Reader,

I fear you have become like a long lost pen-pal. That I should begin every post with apologies for not writing more. I could give excuses- and say, that i’ve been lazy– that i’ve started, as chrissy would say “to make food” more than cook. Or that- in perhaps a growing comfort in the kitchen- i’ve relied less on recipes– and become more like the people i used to despise— using a dash of this and glug of that. measurements too imprecise to pass on to you, dear reader. But instead of these quibbles,  i will offer you something better. A recipe. This comes from the Ottolenghi cookbook- Plenty- which happens to be vegetarian- Special Thanks to Kara– who gave me this cookbook for my last bday. This recipe is easy to put together— but it tastes like something i’d be willing to pay for in restaurant. the author says his mother loves to show off with it when she has guests over. the combination of eggplant and mango- with a lime-spiked dressing is refreshing- perhaps characteristic of a summer dish. boston is cold. but fuck it, this shit tastes good.

i should add- that i threw some best baked tofu in here [baked alongside the eggplant at 350]. you could also serve alongside some nice miso salmon or seared tuna.

1/2 cup rice vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 tablespoon salt

2 garlic cloves

1/2 fresh red chile, finely chopped [i subbed a big pinch of red chili flakes]

1 tsp sesame oil

grated zest and juice of 1 lime

2 eggplants, cut into 3/4 in. dice [mine weighed roughly 1 pound each]

8 to 9 0z soba noodles

1 large ripe mango, cut into 3/4 inch dice or 1/4 in thick strips [i used about 3/4 of a pound- sold pre-cut from whole foods- which i then sliced into strips.

1 2/3 basil leaves, chopped (ottelanghi writes if you can get thai basil- use it- but use much less of it)

2 1/2 cups of cilantro leaves, chopped [i will admit- this is a lot of herbs- and didn’t use all, so it’s ok if you are a little scant]

1/2 onion, thinly sliced.

1 cup sunflower- if frying eggplant- i did not.

in a small saucepan, gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to a minute, just until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add garlic, chile and sesame. Allow to cool and then add lime zest and juice.

original recipe is to shallow fry the eggplant in three  to four batches- once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain. HOWEVER- I decided to bake the eggplant- because I always find frying it problematic. I chopped, put in a colander- liberally salted- and left for an hour to drain. Then, I rinsed the eggplant, squished dry in paper towels. Put on a baking sheet- doused with olive oil [just a couple glugs :)- no need for a cup], salt and pepper- and baked in a 350 oven for about 40 minutes.

Cook noodles in boiling salted water- stirring occasionally- takes about 5-8 minutes- until tender but al dente [don’t overdo.] Drain and rise well- running under cold water. Shake off as much water as possible- then put on a dry dish towel to further drain.

in a mixing bowl- toss noodles, dressing, mango, half the herbs and the onion. you can leave this for an hour or two. then when ready to serve add rest of herbs- pile on plate or bowl.

Gujarati Green Beans

18 Oct


I first came across this recipe at Ballymaloe Cooking school—last summer- shit, two summers ago—in Ireland. But the recipe originally comes from Madhur Jaffrey- a queen of Indian cooking. Normally, I would not count green beans among my favorite vegetables— but there is just so much flavor in these—I keep coming back. Also works great served along side a nice piece of fish, with some new potatoes etc. Btw-I’d rate this recipe as fast & easy.


1 pound fresh green beans

4 tablespoons vegetable oil [can also use grapeseed oil]

1 tablespoon whole black mustard seeds

4 cloves garlic- minced

1/2 -1 hot, dried red chili coarsely crushed in mortar [that’s a lot. Can also do a big pinch of red chili flakes]

1 teaspoon salt

1/2  teaspoon sugar

freshly ground black pepper


Trim beans- and cut into 1-inch pieces [I keep them a bit longer than this- cutting each bean in half or thirds.] Boil a medium pot of water- blanch [which means quickly cook]- by dropping them into boiling water for 3-4 minutes or until just tender [I go on the low-end of this- as they will cook more later in pan.] Immediately drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Put aside. In a large frying pan, heat oil over medium. When hot – add mustard seeds. When they begin to pop [and they will] [quickly hold pan away from the flame] and mix in your garlic [this helps it not to burn. then, put back down on flame] and cook until just turns light brown. Stir in chili flakes- cooking for a few seconds. Add green beans, salt and sugar. Stir. Turn heat to medium-low. Original recipe says cook for 7-8 or until beans have absorbed the flavor of spices- I probably cook less than that- beans should retain their bite. Add black pepper- mix- serve. I also finish most green vegetables with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to brighten flavor.



Sweet Potato Side or Dip

18 Dec

Char sweet potato copy
Delighted to have a guest post from the truly one-of-a-kind, Charlotte:

From Char:

The way I cook? It’s about process. A little of this, a little of
that. Give it a taste. Until it’s good.

I don’t presume to know the exact combination of ingredients that will
result in the best possible outcome. People like different things.

I realize that you can’t do that with everything. But here’s a dip
that I just made using that methodology. It’s good and you should try


·        2 fully-cooked room temperature yams or sweet potatoes. Cook
them in the microwave or via boiling water. Google how long — I don’t
know off the top of my head — but basically they should be soft when
forks are stuck in them

·        Tablespoon or two of freshly grated ginger

·        Teaspoon or two of cumin. I think ground would be better than
whole but I only had the latter

·        Couple tablespoons of chicken stock. I had some homemade
lying around made from Tessa’s recipe

·        Salt and pepper

·        Tablespoon or two of olive oil


·        Set your baseline. Whirl the sweet potatoes + olive oil +
salt and pepper. Then add your chicken stock in amount depending on
what kind of consistency you want (see below).

·        Now experiment. Add small increments of the remaining
ingredients. Taste good? Stop.

Recipe Variations:

·        Don’t like spice? Switch out the ginger and cumin for blue
cheese, lemon, and chives. Or goat cheese.

·        Don’t make it a dip. Make it mashed potatoes instead by
hitting the pulse button a few times on the food processor.

·        Fry dollops of it in a pan with maybe some breadcrumbs mixed
in for a fritter.

·        Stuff it inside protein: sole filets or chicken. Then bake
it.  If you’re doing fish though I would think about decreasing the
cumin and ginger so as not to overwhelm.


·        Obviously pita and veggies

·        Spread it on your sandwich instead of mustard or mayo

·        Eating it with any kind of red meat would be killer. Roll it
in prosciutto/speck/bresaola for an appetizer or just plop some
beside a roast. Or mush it on top of a burger.

Moroccan-Style Braised Vegetables

12 Nov

I’ve wanted to make this recipe every since I stole/borrowed this Alice Waters book from Chrissy. The book In the Green Kitchen: Techniques to Learn by Heart has some great very basic techniques- for example- it taught me the proper way to fry an egg. Or, there will be a whole chapter devoted to the mortar and pestle- as I mentioned in the post on  green tomatillo salsa. She has her friends- share recipes. This one is by Joyce Goldstein and it is called Moroccan-style Braised Vegetables. And the reason why I finally made it- is because I was able to use a lot of vegetable from my CSA. So very seasonable, very fall. I’d say this is closer to soup/chunky stew. And before you ask, yes, you should use dried chickpeas. Not only do they taste way better- but this broth you cook it in- is the base for the braise. And man, it was tasty, I will definitely use for future chickpeas. What always deterred me is that this recipe seems a bit overcomplicated. But put on some Netflix and just let it ride. Oh and yes, you should also use the whole spice seeds- toast and grind- you will get way more flavor out of it.

½ pound (1 cup) dried chickpeas, picked over and soaked overnight [i left overnight because i had time, but could also do the speed up method Just the Tips #10]

1 small onion, peeled and halved

½ cinnamon stick

1 small dried red chile

2 tablespoons olive oil


Drain the chicpeas, put them in a medium pot, and add water to cover by 1 ½ inches. Add the onion, cinnamon stick, chile, olive oil, and generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook gently until chickpeas are tender, about 45 minutes [check, a forgot to time it but I think they might have taken less.] Taste for salt. Remove from the heat and allow the chickpeas to cool in the cooking liquid.

For braised vegetables:


½ pound carrots

1 pound baby turnips [1 used two small turnips and 2 parsnips]

1 ½ pounds butternut squash [I substituted acorn squash because I had it at hand- though next time would go w. butternut]

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

a pinch of saffron threads

½ teaspoon ground turmeric

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 large onion, peeled and diced

2 celery stalks, diced

One 14-oz can whole tomatoes

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger

[optional: i threw in some currants my leftovers, yum. golden raisins would also work nicely]

Preheat the oven to 400. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and season with generous amount of salt. Peel and halve the carrots and cut on the diagonal into 1-inch segments. Trim the turnips and cut into halves and quarters. Cook the carrots and turnips in separate batches until just tender, about 5 minutes. Spread the vegetables on baking sheet to cool at room temperature.

Peel and seed the squash and cut into 1-inch chunks. Put squash on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and toss to coat evenly. Spread the squash out to an even layer, season with salt, roast in the oven until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside at room temperature.

Lightly toast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds and saffron [in a dry skillet], and grind to a powder with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder. Add the turmeric and cayenne, and stir to combine.

Warm a large [large- i used my 5 qt all-clad- this makes a ton], straight-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, followed by the onion, celery, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain the tomatoes and cut into ¼ inch dice. Add the tomatoes to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. Add the spices, garlic, and ginger and cook for 2 more minutes. Add the chickpeas, and the cooking liquid, and bring to a simmer. Add the squash, carrots, and turnips. At this point there should be a nice amount of broth in the pan- like a chunky soup. If not, add water as necessary. Taste for salt, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Recommend to serve with buttered couscous or saffron rice (ask me for recipes- I haven’t tried yet) and pass a bowl of harissa at the table. I think this Moroccan couscous would work well too.

Harissa recipe- I didn’t make but would have if I had the ingredients so am including.

Toss 5 dried ancho chiles on a hot griddle until puffed and fragrant. Put the chilies in a bowl, cover with boiling water, soak for 20 minutes, and drain. Roast, peel and seed 1 large red bell pepper. In a blender or food processor, purée the drained chiles, and peeled pepper with 4 peeled garlic cloves, ¾ cup olive oil. 1 tsp red wine vinegar and salt to taste. Thin with water if desired.

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