MARINATED CHICKPEAS WITH SLOW-ROASTED RED PEPPERS

I follow a group of food bloggers I completely trust. Kelly from Inspired Edibles is part of this group. When she raves about a recipe, I usually jump on making it. This is the most recent example, and I know if you make it you will rave about it also. Two things: do not be tempted to use canned chickpeas. And go for the slow-roasting of bell peppers. These two small details make the dish shine.

MARINATED CHICKPEAS WITH SLOW-ROASTED RED PEPPERS
(adapted from Inspired Edibles)

for the veggie mixture:
1 + 1/4 cup dried chickpeas (from 1 1/4 cup dry)
2 large red bell peppers, cut into strips
110 g Feta cheese
60 g pitted Kalamata olives, sliced
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
parsley to serve

for the marinade:
⅓ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp Herbes de Provence
¾ tsp salt or to taste
black pepper to taste
½ Tbsp honey

Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water. Next day, drain and rinse, then cook in slightly salted water until tender, but still al dente – about 40 minutes. the chickpeas in a large pot with lots of water until desired consistency is achieved (for this recipe, I prefer the chickpeas to have some texture – not too mushy – so I aim for al dente, it takes over 1 hour). This step can be made in advance.

Heat oven to 300F and prepare the marinade by whisking together all the ingredients. Make sure when you add the honey that it gets fully integrated with the other components.

Place the cooked chickpeas (ideally still warm) in serving platter with tomatoes, olives, and feta cheese. intermingle with tomatoes, onion, olives and half of the feta. Pour the marinade over top, tossing gently to combine.

While the chickpea mixture marinades at room temperature, spread the sliced peppers out on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1.5-2 Tbsp olive oil and add a couple shakes of salt, and roast for about one hour. Add them to the chickpea mixture, and serve, sprinkled with parsley leaves.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This recipe is a winner, all the way. Leftovers were fantastic next day and even better on the second day. I warmed everything in the microwave, just barely, and there was no compromise in the texture, the taste of the marinade just got more intense. Perfect.

Make sure to stop by Kelly’s blog and read her post, as she offers a different way to enjoy it, with cucumbers in tzatziki sauce. The key is to cook the chickpeas from scratch. Totally different from canned, which works fine for other preparations such as hummus. The slow-roasting of the bell peppers is another great twist, they develop a milder flavor and very soft texture.

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SUNFLOWER SEED “RISOTTO” WITH EDAMAME

It is not often that a recipe blows my mind and I get so excited about it I can hardly wait to share here… This is not rice-based. There is no rice at all. The whole concoction is made with sunflower seeds, soaked for several hours. It is absolutely delicious, hearty but considerably lower in carbs. The starting point for my version was a recipe from Naturally Nourished, by Sarah Britton. I was not sure the husband was going to like it that much, but he thought it was one of the tastiest side dishes I’ve made in the recent past. So there you go!

SUNFLOWER SEED “RISOTTO” WITH EDAMAME
(inspired by Naturally Nourished)

2 cups raw, unsalted, shelled sunflower seeds
1 tsp salt, plus more as needed
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 fennel bulb, diced small
2 cups vegetable stock (you won’t need the full amount)
frozen edamame, about 1/2 cup or amount to taste

Soak the sunflower seeds overnight or all day with the sea salt in a large bowl of water. Drain and rinse the sunflower seeds.

In a high-power blender (I used a Vitamix), add 1/2 cup of soaked seeds and half a cup of water. Blend util fully smooth, remove and set aside.

In a non-stick skillet or small stockpot, heat the oil, add the fennel, season with salt and pepper. After about 2 minutes, add the soaked and drained whole sunflower seeds, stir to coat with the oil, then add vegetable stock to completely cover the seeds. It will depend on the size of your pan, but you will probably need less than 2 cups. Add a little salt and pepper if so desired.

Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved sunflower seed cream, stir, then add frozen edamame, spread all over the surface, and cover the pan again. Cook gently for 5 minutes, then check that the seeds are tender and the edamame warm. If needed, add more vegetable stock, or alternatively remove the lid and let the excess liquid evaporate.

Serve the “risotto” right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I fell in love with this dish at first bite… The cream of seeds made in the Vitamix has a strong taste, and gives the grain a luscious texture without the need for butter. You won’t use all, but it is hard to make less in the Vitamix. I am saving the leftover for next time, because it will happen again very soon… You can add different veggies, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, whatever you feel like, adjusting the timing or cooking the veggies before incorporating in the “risotto.” Sometimes it is hard to find raw sunflower seeds, but when we have them available in our grocery store, we buy several packages. Now that this dish will be part of our regular rotation, I cannot afford to run out of them!

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KAMUT AND BROCCOLI SALAD

If I am going to have a salad, my preference is a salad with substance, and a variety of textures and colors. No need to go all the way into a Chicken Caesar or a Steak Salad, but the addition of grains is more than welcome. I used quick-cooking kamut, but any type will work, just pay attention to the timing. Also, any other will be fine: barley, cracked wheat, or the beautiful farro.

KAMUT & BROCCOLI SALAD
(adapted from many sources)

1 cup cooked kamut, or amount to taste
2 broccoli heads, or amount to taste
1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
1/4 cup raisins
1/2 apple, cut in pieces (I used Pink Lady)
1/4 cup olive oil
juice and zest of 1 lemon
grated ginger to taste
salt and pepper to taste

The kamut can be prepared a day in advance if you like. Make sure it is cold when you make the salad. If you make it in advance, drizzle just a touch of olive oil to prevent the grains from sticking together. Separate the broccoli into florets and steam them for 3 minutes. Immediately run very cold water to stop the cooking. Cut the steamed broccoli into pieces. Reserve.

Make the dressing by whisking the olive oil with lemon juice, add ginger, salt and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, add all the ingredients for the salad, pour the dressing and mix gently. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Allow the salad to sit for 30 minutes before serving, if possible.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: The main inspiration for this recipe came from a cookbook I own, but that version served the broccoli raw and passed by the food processor. The pieces of raw broccoli were very small and lost in the middle of the grain, all acquiring the same green color. The way I chose to make it, was barely steaming the broccoli. This simple step tames its raw sharpness. Next, I cut the pieces with a knife, in small chunks. In my opinion, this makes the final product much more appealing not only visually, but as far as texture goes.

The apples and raisins are a must, and the cashews give that extra crunchiness that will leave you smiling… peanuts, walnuts, or pecans, can be used instead.

The added bonus of this salad: it holds quite well in the fridge. I made such a big portion that in fact it lasted two days, and on the second day I decided to warm it in the microwave for a minute. Perfect! A light lunch that needed absolutely nothing else to go with it.

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RED QUINOA “TABBOULEH”

Another great recipe that the editors of the New York Times raved about. I ate leftovers for two days, with a slightly bigger smile on the last time. It gets better and better. I adore colorful food. And clothes. And earrings.

RED QUINOA “TABBOULEH”
(slightly modified from The New York Times)

1 cup red quinoa (or a mixture of colors)
3 cups wate
Salt to taste
½ cup fresh lemon juice½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup finely diced cucumber
1 pound ripe tomatoes, cut in small dice

Rinse the quinoa thoroughly, and combine with the water and salt to taste in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer 15 to 20 minutes until the quinoa displays a little white spiral. Drain through a strainer, tap to remove excess water, then return the quinoa to the pot. Place a dish towel over the top of the pot, and return the lid. Let sit for 15 minutes. This gives the quinoa a perfect texture.

Transfer the quinoa to a large bowl. Mix together the lemon juice, salt to taste and cumin, and toss half of it with the quinoa. Allow the quinoa to cool. Combine the remaining lemon juice and olive oil, and toss with the cooled quinoa. Add the remaining ingredients, and toss together. Taste and adjust seasoning.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: We enjoyed it with grilled chicken breasts, for a very simple but delicious dinner. It became my lunch for the following two days, on the second time I added a sunny-side egg on top. Heaven. I hope purists will forgive the tabbouleh label in the recipe, but I was not the one who started. The New York Times was the first sinner. I just went along with it, but added the quotation marks to protect my reputation as a food blogger. At any rate, tabbouleh or not, make this recipe. It is super refreshing and satisfying.

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ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD

Another recipe that was highly recommended by editors of the food section in The New York Times. We will be paying close attention to those reviews from now on, because so far everything we’ve tried has been a total winner. I made a few modifications to adapt to our taste, so I share my version with you. Barley is definitely under-appreciated.

ROASTED CARROT AND BARLEY SALAD
(adapted from The New York Times)

1 cup pearled barley
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 pounds carrots, washed, trimmed and cut into long pieces
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
zest of 1 lemon
2 cups arugula
A handful of cilantro
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds

for the spiced tahini:
¼ cup tahini
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon Ras-el-hanout
water to adjust consistency

Heat oven to 425 degrees and place a rack on the lowest shelf. In a medium saucepan, combine barley with 4 cups water; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until tender, about 20 to 25 minutes. Drain excess water if still some remains.

Meanwhile, place the carrots on a sheet pan, drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat, spreading into an even layer. Season with salt and pepper. Place on the bottom oven rack and roast until tender and starting to turn golden, about 25 minutes.

While the carrots roast, make the dressing: In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, Ras-el-hanout, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add 3 to 4 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it is smooth and has a pourable consistency.

When the carrots are ready, remove them from the oven, drizzle with honey and sprinkle with lemon zest. Season with a pinch of salt and toss to coat.

In a serving bowl, combine the carrots with the barley, arugula and parsley. Drizzle with the spiced tahini and sprinkle with almonds. Try not to over-eat…

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one of the best side dishes of the year of 2021 that showed up at our table. I do have a very special place in my heart for tahini, so maybe that explains my love for this recipe. You can cook the barley and roast the carrots in advance. In that case, just warm the carrots briefly in the microwave – I mean for 20 seconds tops – because it’s nice to have the contrast of warm carrots with the cold salad. If you are not too fond of arugula, spinach will work too, but there’s something about the slightly bitter nature of arugula that works well here.

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