Chunky Chickpea Spread

by Caroline

I have shelves full of cookbooks, but can always make room for more, especially when it’s one as gorgeous and delicious as the latest cookbook from Heidi Swanson, Super Natural Every Day, which Tony gave me for my birthday. Here’s my version of my current favorite recipe from the book, which looks a bit like hummus but tastes, because of the mustard and dill, like a vegetarian tuna salad. Her recipe uses the spread as a sandwich filling, but I just eat it spread on crackers or flatbread.

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas
1/4 cup minced red onion
1 celery rib, minced
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
salt to taste

1/2 cup yogurt
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
Juice of half a lemon, or more to taste, plus a bit of grated zest

Pulse two-thirds of the chickpeas in a food processor until coarsely ground. (They’ll look like wet breadcrumbs.) Add them to a medium bowl with the whole chickpeas, then stir in the onion, celery, dill, and some salt.

Whisk the yogurt, mustard and lemon until well combined and add enough to the chickpeas to moisten. Add more according to your taste (I like this spread rather moist, but if you’re making sandwiches you might want to keep it drier.) Serve in lavash flatbread or pita wraps with salad greens, or simply scooped from a bowl with pita triangles or chips.

More Mini Meals

By Lisa

The pace of life has not abated here, and like a lot of you, I’m still not finding a whole lot of time to cook a leisurely dinner. I’ve had to innovate a lot in order to have some variety. It helps that the markets are full of lots of fresh produce, which needs very little to adorn it or get it ready for the table.

Recently, I needed something fast to cook in between soccer practice and the school performance, and while I love pre-cooked sausages, the kids love mini pre-cooked sausages even more. I built the meal around these, which were ready in the convection oven in 10 minutes.

I put out a tray of mustards, mini rolls, mini carrots, cherry tomatoes, & shelling peas.

Dessert was a no-brainer.

Mini-Bites, or more Salads-on-a-Stick

by Lisa

The salad on a stick was such a hit with everyone, and so easy and portable, I’ve been brainstorming variations.   And what better place to test the concept and recipes than a Memorial Day get together with Caroline and her family, and our friend Nicki Richesin & her family. Nicki has just edited the terrific anthology Crush: 26 Real Life Tales of First Love, which you should put on the top of your summer reading list.

I made bite size versions of the salad-on-a-stick with toothpicks instead of skewers, and it turned out to be perfect party food.  They were a big hit with the grown-ups, and some of the kids. But the kids were mostly busy with the zip line, which Tony re-created for the afternoon and kept all of them busy for, oh, 4 hours. So can you blame them for not eating very much while there were things to build and fly and crash?

We set the platters out on the deck for snackingwhile building, but we adults ate most of them. For two of the choices, I put a small slice of bread on the bottom to soak up the dipping sauce. It worked beautifully.

The choices:

Roasted Pepper + Manchego + Brown bread

Cherry tomato + basil leaf + mini-baguette slice, with olive oil + balsamic vinegar for dipping

Romaine leaf + bacon + feta dressing & ranch dressing, for dipping

Crispy Lemon Rosemary Chicken

By Lisa

I tried this recipe because in the middle of cooking a run-of-the-mill dinner for my kids last week, I got a text from a friend with a cooking question. I responded & asked what she was cooking. She told me she was trying to cook like Giada. I responded I wanted to look like Giada.   That is not going to happen.

But the chicken did happen, in both our homes, and with good results. These are basically a version of chicken “nuggets” rolled in mixture of polenta and rosemary and sprinkled with lemon rosemary salt. They’re nicely crispy, great at room temperature, and appealing to kids without being too familiar.  It’s a fast, good weeknight chicken recipe. Next time, I might experiment with baking these, since frying can be messy & I hate the clean up.

The kids liked it, the book club liked it, and we even liked it leftover as a little  side dish of protein for a composed salad (with Boston lettuce, cilantro, cucumber with olive oil and white balsamic)

It was a busy week and I forgot to take a picture, but you can trust me that it’s an appealing looking dish.  For the visual, today, in honor of Giada, here’s the closest thing I have a to a glamour shot, taken by the amazing Lisa Johnson, Rock Photographer, in case, you know, one of those glossy magazines comes calling.

But seriously folks, try the chicken. And be sure to make extra salt: it’s great on salads. Or popcorn.

Crispy Chicken with Rosemary-Lemon Salt

Vegetable oil for frying

1 (6-inch) sprig fresh rosemary
1/4 cup kosher salt
Zest of 1/2 large lemon

1 pound chicken tenders, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
Zest of 1/2 large lemon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup fine cornmeal or instant polenta

For the salt: Heat 1/4-inch of oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium-high heat (the oil is hot enough when a pinch of cornmeal sizzles when added to the pan). Add the rosemary sprig and fry for 30 seconds until crisp. Using tongs, remove the rosemary sprig and drain on paper towels. Remove the leaves and finely chop to yield 1 tablespoon. Place the rosemary, salt and lemon zest in a small bowl. Mix with a fork until combined. Set aside.

For the chicken: In a medium bowl, mix together the chicken, garlic, chopped rosemary, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Add the cornmeal and toss until the chicken is coated. Add 1/2 of the chicken to the same skillet used to cook the rosemary and fry for 2 to 3 minutes each side until golden and crispy. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Sprinkle with the rosemary-lemon salt and serve.

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 to 7 minutes

Green Beans with Eggs & Herbs

By Lisa

I came across this recipe in Food and Wine this month, and since we eat a lot of eggs over here, and green beans are generally a hit, I thought what could be bad? It’s basically a tumbled togther mix of eggs, green beans, and herbs.  Then I realized the very premise of the dish–all the foods touching each other could pose a problem. Finn tends not to like things mixed together. At least on the first appearance.  But taken alone, the ingredients were a no brainer, and the dish had the added benefit of keeping at room temperature, and I figured I could make a version with the eggs separate for the kids, before mixing the ingredients together for us to eat later, which is exactly what I did. In the end, Ella requested an omelet, so I agreed to that variation too.

Version 1.0 & 1. 5

Version 2.0

In the end, both kids tasted Version 2.0 and agreed it was good, so the slow ramp up to the big dish was worth it. The consensus was that the original dish was excellent, if a bit too onion-y. You can see the original version here, but when I make it again I will modify it thusly:

  • 1 pound green beans, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 5 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro, plus small sprigs for garnish (or try another leafy herb–like basil)
  • 1 chopped green onion, green part included (optional)
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  1. Cook green beans in boiling salted water until tender. About 6 minutes.
  2. Melt butter in nonstick pan. Lightly scramble eggs.  Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Add the green beans, cilantro, green onion, and garlic.
  4. Serve immediately or at room temperature, garnished with cilantro.

It’s a great summer dish–warm or at room temperature. An easy appetizer, or casual outdoor meal, or just when you need something quick and healthy and full of flavor.