Garlicky Chickpea and Arugula Salad

Rob is out of town for the week, back in Massachusetts visiting his mom for her birthday (happy birthday, Moe!), which means it’s just me and the pets. Which means lots of funny little meals made up of things I just feel like eating, okay? And chickpea salads. Because I’m crazy about chickpeas and Rob is not.

So my solo week started with soaking a cup of dry chickpeas overnight and cooking them in the slow-cooker for a few hours. (WOOO! PARTY!) In the end they were soft but not mushy and ready to soak up a garlicky lemon vinaigrette.

This week I also joined a super-local CSA, Silver Lake Farms, so I mixed the chickpeas with a few handfuls of arugula leaves from my box, but this salad actually works with any type of green, cooked or uncooked. I’ve made it with spinach, kale, chard and even purple mustard leaves.

The original recipe was published a couple years ago in the excellent Recipes for Health column in The New York Times. I made it after a marathon baking session I did for a friend, and after a weekend of tasting cookies, brownies and caramel corn, it was just what I needed: nourishing, garlicky and bright with lemon and herbs.

The important takeaway from that first time making it was that chickpeas were made for a garlicky lemon vinaigrette. From there, you’re free to go in any direction you like, mixing it with whatever herbs and cheese you like. Or don’t use cheese and make it vegan. It’s your solo chickpea party*, go crazy!

* You don’t actually have to eat this alone; it makes at least two servings. But I actually preferred eating it as a dinner for one because there was enough left over to eat the next day over brown rice with a fried egg on top. (WOOO! TWO-DAY PARTY!)


Garlicky Chickpea and Arugula Salad

Yield: 2 large servings

{ Ingredients }

1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 large garlic clove
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mint
1/4 cup parsley
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 15-ounce can, drained and rinsed)
2 large handfuls arugula
2 tablespoons feta cheese (optional)

{ Directions }

Place the lemon juice, garlic clove and salt in the bowl of a mini food processor or chopper. Pulse a few times to combine and dissolve the salt. Add the mint and parsley. While the processor is running, drizzle in the olive oil. Continue processing until the herbs and garlic are finely minced and the dressing is thoroughly combined.

(If you don't have a mini food processor or chopper, finely mince the garlic and herbs. Combine them with the lemon juice and salt in a small bowl and slowly whisk in the olive oil.)

Put the chickpeas in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing and stir, coating the chickpeas evenly. Add the arugula and a few grinds of fresh pepper and mix thoroughly. Crumble the optional feta on top before serving.

Additional Notes:
• Almost any green leafy vegetable can be used in place of the arugula. Tough or bitter greens can be steamed, blanched or sauteed before being mixed in.

• This salad is good warm or cold, and tastes even better the next day, after the chickpeas have had time to soak up the dressing.

Inspired by The New York Times

Friday Links: April 20, 2012

This week I discovered the magic of pet photos + purikura apps. (Thanks, Jenn Marie!) This is Cricket, one of the dogs we dog-sat last weekend, as seen through Decopic.


What I’ve been reading:

I Love My Kitchen Because: Miho Hatori – Saveur

Are Most People in Denial About Their Weight? – New York Times

How to Charm Your Sushi Chef – CHOW

Drinking On The Job: Is 2012 The New 1966? – NPR


What I’ve been cooking:

Lemon Yogurt Ice Box Tart – my recipe on The Kitchn

Warm Chickpeas and Greens with Vinaigrette – New York Times

…and thinking about cooking:

Scallion Pancakes – Food52

Tsukune (Japanese Chicken Meatballs) – Bon Appetit

A Hawaiian Honeymoon

Long ago, when my romance with Rob consisted mainly of flirtatious instant-message chats, meaningful looks across the cubicles and long lunch picnics in the sad park next to our office building, we used to talk about taking a trip to Hawaii together. It sounded thrilling and utterly impossible.

Nearly a decade later, the impossible happened — but not without a little agonizing. Was a Hawaiian honeymoon too cliched? Were we being lame?

All our fears were for nothing, it turns out. A honeymoon in Kauai is just as thrilling as it sounded long ago, back when the idea was just words on a computer screen and I was still nervous about even holding Rob’s hand.

So here’s how we did it:

We rented a cottage on an organic farm in the town of Kilauea, on the North Shore of Kauai. It was perfect — well-equipped for cooking simple meals, full of hippie books and “artwork” and a mere $99 a night. We fell asleep to the sound of wind in the palm trees and woke up to wild roosters in a nearby field, which I found more pleasant than Rob did.

We took a boat ride on a catamaran — looking very nautical — and saw 3000-foot sea cliffs. We snorkeled in a calm bay and got back to Kilauea in time for the weekly farmers market.

It was a small market, but everything was so vivid, it almost leapt off the tables. I bought bunches of bright greens, a knobby chunk of ginger, little yellow tomatoes and a bunch of sweet bananas.

Rob hates farmers markets and hippies, so we didn’t stay long. We made a quick stop at the fish market across the street and bought three pieces of super-fresh ahi. With a nice bottle of wine from the town’s small but well-stocked grocery store, we were ready to head home for dinner.

I cooked every night and Rob did dishes every night. Neither of us complained about our respective duties. This is the magic of Hawaii.

We hiked through the jaw-dropping views of Waimea Canyon and stopped for shave ice at Jo Jo’s on the way home.

We never had a chill-out-on-the-beach day, but we wandered around a couple sea caves and Rob herded feral chickens. On our last day, we rented bicycles and found a sea turtle on the beach. We thought it was dead, but it was just living very slowly. As sea turtles do.

We lived very slowly too, the six days we were there. I can’t imagine a better honeymoon.

Creamy Celery, Apple and Walnut Soup

Celery is like an extra in a movie restaurant scene. You need it, but you aren’t supposed to notice it or think about it much. If it stands out, you probably used too much. But every extra dreams of a big break, the moment when the director points straight at it — most likely in slow motion — and says, “Youuuuu. You’re my staaaaar.” (In slow-motion-speak, obviously.)

This soup is that moment for plain old celery.

It was born the weekend I got an enormous bunch of celery in my CSA box, a leafy, bright-green bunch that was way too big to fit in my fridge as-is. For some reason I kept thinking about soup, though I think the only celery soup I had ever eaten was a can of Campbell’s Cream of Sadness at some point in my childhood. This celery deserved better.

And it got it: a slow softening in butter with chopped potato and onion and — thrown in at the last minute — an apple on the counter that had gotten too mushy to eat out of hand. I added as many celery leaves as I could, which turned deep green as they cooked. Everything got covered with stock and simmered until soft, then whizzed up with the immersion blender into a creamy puree.

The combination of celery and apple had gotten me thinking about Waldorf salad, that classic mix of celery, apples and walnuts, so I added a drizzle of walnut oil and it was just right: a little nutty, a little sweet, with celery the undeniable star.

Celery, I’ll never ignore you again.

Creamy Celery, Apple & Walnut Soup

Yield: 4-6 servings

{ Ingredients }

3 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
1 large starchy potato, peeled and chopped
1 medium apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 pound celery (stalks and leaves), chopped
5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
Walnut oil

{ Directions }

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, potato, apple and celery and a sprinkle of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, until the onion has softened and the celery leaves are deep green.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the potato and apple pieces are very soft. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender, or let cool slightly and blend in batches with a countertop blender. Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Ladle into bowls and drizzle about 2 teaspoons of walnut oil onto each serving.

Additional Notes
• For a smoother soup, peel the strings out of the celery stalks and discard them before chopping. I actually prefer the more substantial texture of the soup with the strings left in.

• A wan, leafless celery bunch from the supermarket won't make a soup that is as full-flavored. If possible, use a fresh bunch from the farmers market that is bright and leafy and that smells deeply celery-ish.

• Starting with olive oil instead of butter will make this soup vegan, but I think the butter adds something extra-special. Use it if possible.

Friday Links: March 30, 2012

Parsnips in love. (Follow me on Instagram: anjaliruth)


What I’ve been reading:

Red Meat Blues – New York Times

Supreme Court Ruling: Broccoli Sucks – CHOW

Make Perfect Pita – Gilt Taste

‘Larry,’ Quaker of Oatmeal Fame, Gets a Makeover – Wall Street Journal

Kicking the Dessert Habit – Dinner A Love Story


What I’ve been cooking:

Nancy Silverton’s Focaccia – Los Angeles Times

Chana Masala – Orangette

…and thinking about cooking:

Roasted Feta with Thyme Honey – Food52

Strawberry & Honey Sorbet – The Kitchn