Posts Tagged ‘chickpeas’

Chickpea Ratatouille with Couscous

Ratatouille

I just realized that this is my second post about chickpeas in a row, but you’ll forgive me because you already know how much I adore chickpeas.

You know how certain foods are memory triggers? Well, ratatouille with couscous will forever remind me of a small gathering of friends, lively conversation, laughter, flickering candles, and stories… fascinating tales that make you homesick for places you’ve never been.

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I had ratatouille for the first time not too long ago…
It was a ‘welcome back’ dinner for a friend’s mom who’d come home from travelling the world; we ate roasted ratatouille on a bed of saffron laced couscous.

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This French vegetable stew with its vibrant colours and complex flavours… it’s all I talked about for weeks, until @adjoa took pity on me and started making this version of ratatouille – she got the recipe from a French newsletter and adapted it to include chickpeas.

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And when she occasionally makes this, it’s a delight; earthy chickpeas and a melange of vegetables simmered and stewed – it’s fresh, simple and tasty, full of happy memories.

To make the couscous that accompanies this ratatouille, bring 1 cup of water to a boil, stir in 1 cup of couscous, a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of butter or olive oil. Remove from heat, cover and let the couscous sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve

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Chickpea and Salsa Bruschetta

 
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Boy, am I glad the weekend is here.
This week almost broke my will; I had so much going on while all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and never get up.
I think I may be coming down with a cold, or worse, the flu. Not that I know what’s what.
The universe seems to be in tune with my mood, it’s been gloomy all week, I haven’t decided if that’s a good thing or not.

The meals I’ve made these past few days haven’t been very exciting; that was until I stumbled into putting this chickpea and salsa bruschetta together.

The recipe got its start as hors d’oeuvres; an easy and tasteful starter @adjoa and I made a couple of months back.
I’d wanted to make it again, but the timing was always off, I always seemed to be out of an essential ingredient.

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I came home from another wearying day this week, and there they were; a jar of chickpeas and a bottle of salsa, side by side.
It’s a humbling and satisfying meal, quick and tasty; very delicious, kind of like fast food but good for you.

Did I mention it was easy? It’s basically sliced bread toasted and brushed with olive oil, with a generous heaping of salsa and crushed chickpeas and finished with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

As sad as it might sound, these were the highlight of my week.

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Airplane Food

 
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I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to bring my own food on long flights, it’s usually when I’m sky-high, being served something I absolutely hate that I kick myself for not just doing it.
I assumed it was more trouble than it’s worth, and required the sort of planning and preparation I wasn’t ready to commit to. It turns out there isn’t as much effort involved as I’d imagined.

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For my flight to Paris, I made savoury hand pies with smoked trout and peas in a tomato sauce, using pre-portioned pizza dough I had in the freezer.
I also made baked chickpea patties (pakoras) with onions, carrots and sweet peppers. I packed some cookies, dark chocolate and Smarties too.
It took me all but two hours to make the hand pies and pakoras the night before; it came together easily and the reward of having them on that long uncomfortable flight was worth it!

Our flight was overnight, long and cramped with a short stopover at Heathrow; in coach (ahem… World Traveller class) our inflight dinner looked sad and unappetizing, and the breakfast pitiful, for once I was glad I had my own food.

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My airplane food fit in a nice sized two-layer stainless steel lunchbox, packed the same way I used to pack my bento lunches.
The lid is tight and secure and because it has no liquids, I could just throw it in my handbag; it cleared security easily with no issues.
It felt really good munching on something that I really liked for once.
It made the tight nine-hour long journey a little bearable
One of the stewardesses called our set up ‘an airplane picnic!’
It made me smile, I think we’ll be having lots of picnics up in the airplane from here on…
On the return trip, I plan on filling our little lunchboxes with the most deliciously delectable French pastries.

Recipes for the hand pies and pakoras coming soon

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Socca

 
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I heard about socca for the first time just a few years ago, I think it was back in 2010 when a friend’s mom, who’d just returned from living abroad for many years invited us to dinner.
We had roasted ratatouille and couscous, I remember the couscous had strands of saffron and the food smelled heavenly.

We drank wine from the Jura region (of France) while our host regaled us with tales of her travels; she was trying at one point to convince us that couscous was essentially ‘French food’ and some weren’t swayed, that threw the conversation into foods that didn’t’ necessarily seem French, like socca.

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The best socca, she explained, could be found on the streets of Nice from hole-in-the wall diners to fancy restaurants.
She described this humble street-food, made simply of chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt, transformed into a thin pancake-like flatbread with crispy edges – was the most exquisite thing she’d ever eaten.

I promised myself socca was the first meal I’d eat if I were ever lucky enough to go to Nice.
I didn’t’ give it much thought until a few months ago while flipping through a copy of David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris I’d borrowed from someone at work.
In there was a recipe for socca; plain, simple and very tempting.

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I made it on a Saturday morning, just before we were to set out on a hike, I’d heard it was filling, high in good protein and healthy carbs; I decided it was just what we needed. The hike, by the way, never happened – but our tummies were full.

It’s one of the easiest things I’ve ever made, it’s not a fancy or pretty looking dish… it isn’t superficial but it’s ridiculously delicious – almost addictive!
We ate it plain, right out of the pan, standing and not bothering to sit.
Naturally, it’s vegan and gluten free.

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Brown Chickpeas, Smoked Trout, Beets, Apples & Radish Salad

 
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The year I was born, my dad built us a house in the middle of nowhere on a patch of forest land that belonged in his family.
He painted the little house an unsuitable shade of yellow that looked so spectacularly out of place, you’d think nature was playing a trick on you.
He moved us out there, intent on becoming a farmer, and this was my home for the first years of my life.

I could write a book about our adventures; a sweeping saga of our struggles, the delicate art of farming, and how we underestimated the land.

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But today’s tale is about the radishes and other vegetables we grew that first year.
The first year was probably our best year; we had running water, chickens in the coop and the vegetables grew, and we’d yet to experience the gnawing hunger that’ll come.
We grew vegetables that year; and when my mom and siblings were away at work and school respectively, my dad spent the day tending the land under the quiet harsh sun, while I played away nearby underneath the breezy shades. He swears this is where I came to love solitude.

We grew everything… sweet potatoes, bell peppers, cabbage, onions, tomatoes, carrots, spinach, black-eyed peas, bananas, radishes… the mango and papaya trees just grew on their own.

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“Too much radish!” that’s how my mom remembers it; we harvested more radish than we knew what to do with them. As baskets of radish piled up, she feared we’d have to eat radish for the remainder of our lives on the farm… a pity since we weren’t really radish eaters, I don’t think we even liked them. Luckily we found a few restaurants and hotels to take them off our hands.

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I thought of that story when I found this salad, it’s the first salad (or anything for that matter) with radish that I’ve been tempted to make. I loved the idea of this salad too much not to try it.
How could I not want to make this? – it makes me want to grow my own vegetables, and although I don’t really remember that first year, there’s still that nostalgic tinge; perhaps from all those stories I’ve heard.

It’s a simple rustic salad inspired by this black chickpea verrine from La Tartine Gourmande, flavourful with thinly sliced beets, carrots, apples, onions and radishes, the dressing is refreshingly citrusy and peppery. I loved the heat from the ginger and pepper flakes, subtle sweetness from the honey tempered with the tartness from the vinegar and lime.

I used brown chickpeas in this salad, which I found in the bulk bin section under ‘heirloom beans’ at my local Whole Foods.
Brown chickpeas are usually smaller with a deep nutty flavour, they take a little longer to cook, are sturdier in texture but can be used just like you would the regular pale yellow chickpea.

This salad can also easily be made vegan by using avocado in place of smoked trout, and agave or maple syrup in the dressing instead of honey.

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